Internal Prisoner Transfer Leads to Bloody Brawl in Rajai Shahr

Posted on: October 27th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- On Monday, October 22, 2018, a bloody brawl that broke out in Rajai Shahr Prison led to the hospitalization of two prisoners who sustained serious injuries.

The victims were identified as Amir Akbari and Moslem Karimpour, both from hall 19 of Ward 7, and both incarcerated on murder charges.

Akbari suffered from massive blood loss after sustaining multiple lacerations with a sharp object and slipped into critical condition when his transfer to the hospital was delayed. Karimpour returned to Rajai Shahr on Wednesday, October 24th after getting treatment for wounds sustained his abdomen and chest.

Well aware that ward transfers in Rajai Shahr — primarily a holding facility for violent crimes  — have the potential to devolve into violent clashes, authorities there initiated the skirmish when they attempted to transfer Akbari to a different ward. Prison personnel, namely Gholamreza Ziaei, the Rajai Shahr director, and Vali Alimohammadi, president of the prison’s internal affairs, were met with protests from a group of prisoners when they continued to push for the transfer.

Akbari was subsequently transferred to a “suite,” while Ziaei insisted that he intended the transfer to prevent prisoner-on-prisoner violence, citing the example of Vahid Moradi, a prisoner killed in gang conflicts in July of this year. “What happened when Vahid Moradi died?” he reportedly said. “If you die, it’s on me.”

Prison security has been known to fan flames of division among prison gangs by conducting its business with the help of incarcerated violent offenders. Such meddling by security personnel was reportedly a factor in Moradi’s death.

A notorious point of exile for political and common criminals, Rajai Shahr’s reputation precedes it as one of the most cutthroat environments for prisoners in Iran. Human rights organizations have published numerous reports of Rajai Shahr managers’ misconduct, including arbitrary and inhumane punishments, participation in organized crime, mafia activity, and smuggling, and the premeditated murders of prisoners.

HRANA reports indicate that Gholamreza Ziaei and Vali Alimohammadi are the most oft-cited and seasoned perpetrators of human rights violations in Rajai Shahr. Valimohammadi, who is also the Ward-4 Warden, is reportedly in cahoots with prison gangs facilitating intra-prison drug trafficking.

Ziaei headed the Kahrizak camp, where several political prisoners were tortured and killed during his tenure.

Earlier this year, the US Department of the Treasury designated Gholamreza Ziaei as an individual “acting on behalf of the Government of Iran who is responsible for or complicit in, or responsible for ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, the commission of serious human rights abuses against persons in Iran or Iranian citizens or residents.”

Karaj is located 30 miles west of Tehran and is the capital of Alborz province.