On Friday, June 19, Romanian police found Iranian Judge Gholamreza Mansouri’s dead body on the sidewalk of the hotel where he lived in Bucharest. Investigations about his murder were launched to find out whether he had committed suicide by throwing himself out of the window of his room, or whether he was pushed out of the window by an “unknown” person.
Suspicion has fallen upon the involvement of an Iranian security agency in Mansouri’s anticipated assassination. This was after he had traveled to Germany then moved to Romania, which had triggered a storm of formal complaints from exiled opponents and Iranian former prisoners, as well as litigation filed by “Reporters Without Borders” and the “International Press Institute” in Vienna. This led to his interrogation in a Romanian court, in which he was finally prosecuted and held accountable, as one of the symbols of the Islamic regime, for committing torture crimes, violating human rights and suppressing freedoms against journalists, political activists, and civilians in Iran.
Mansouri, known as “the corrupt judge”, was charged with receiving €500,000 in bribes during his time in office, although he repeatedly denied this charge. He was also known as “the unjust judge” because he had used his position to oppress every journalist who had dared to criticize the regime. In 2013, he issued a “collective arrest order” against opposition journalists and imprisoned them, in addition to repeatedly attacking the freedom of the press in general, like when he banned the opposition newspaper “Sharq” in 2012, and imprisoned its editor. He never denied these charges.
Mansouri’s life ended in Bucharest, the way tyrannical character’s lives usually end. His ending marked the beginning of a new life for one of his victims, a female refugee activist in Turkey, named Azam Jenkaroi. She was one of the “Revolution’s Street Girls” who defied the Islamic regime, by removing their veil in public places. Azam was thrown in the “Evin” prison at the time under incredibly inhumane conditions. After serving her sentence, she managed to escape across the borders to Turkey.
The website “Radio Farda” interviewed Azam, after the news of Mansouri’s assassination got out, during which she narrated the details of her plight with detention, trial, prison, and then escapism.
“The first time I saw Judge Mansouri was on Sunday, 18th February 2017, when he was an assistant judge at the Tehran Tribunal, and the head of the Guidance Court, which gave him extensive judicial influence. I had been arrested for four days, and my charge was appearing without my veil on one of Tehran’s sidewalks. That day, I followed in the footsteps of Wida Mowahid and Nargis Husseini, and decided to object to the mandatory veil the way they did before me,” She said.
The news of his death did not heal me or make me happy. Only the serving of justice would come as the good news that will bring healing, and it will undoubtedly break out soon.”
“After being detained, they placed me in a solitary cell,” She added, “where I was supposed to remain for only two days, but they intentionally kept me for four days. Before they took me to the Guidance Court to meet Mansouri, the investigator asked me to sign a written interrogation, including a confession that I was a spy and an agent working for Israel and the United States, and that I regretted doing so. But I refused. So, they tied me up again and advised me at the time, not to challenge Mansouri with my answers, because if he gets angry, he would immediately send me to the notorious “Karjak” prison.”
“I was left alone in his office where I found a chair, so I sat down. A few minutes later, he entered in a hurry, shouted angrily at me for sitting on the chair and ordered me to stand up. He approached me, looked at me right in my eyes and cursed me, disgustingly, accusing me of corruption, moral decay and psychological illness. He promised that he would ruin my life and take everything I had. After leaving prison, I found that my driver’s license was annulled as per his orders, I was expelled from my job and was prevented from completing my university classes too, upon his command.”
“The greatest ordeal that he caused me was depriving me of the right to the custody of my daughter, claiming that I was psychopath who would affect my daughter’s well-being and mental health. I had got a default divorce before I went to prison, with a legal sentence allowing me to keep my daughter in my custody. However, Mansouri dropped all these sentences with a stroke of his fingers, and requested the holding of two trials for me. In the first trial, he ruled that I shall be imprisoned for one year for objecting to wearing the Islamic veil, and appearing without a veil in a public place. The second trial was held to prove that I was not qualified for my daughter’s custody. On top of all of this, he considered my divorce illegal, so he nullified the divorce first, then returned my daughter to her father’s custody.”
“After leaving prison, my family and I spent a whole month looking for my divorce papers in Tehran court. The answer was that all documents were lost and no one knew how, and that my divorce was not executed, which meant that I was not considered divorced, and that I had to return under my husband’s control. These pressures were ordered on me as revenge, but were also used to make me an example for other Iranian mothers, who should think carefully before defying the regime, under any pretext.”
“Mansouri noticed that I was strongly attached to my daughter, and that I held on to her custody, like every mother would in this world. So, he decided to discipline me. One day I was surprised by a court bailiff knocking my door and asking me to hand over my daughter, in execution of a legitimate judgment issued by Judge Mansouri. I had to send my daughter to her father, who had not seen her for 5 years, and did not even bother to accompany the bailiff for her own psychological well-being.”
“They were very difficult days, in prison, in court and at home. My daughter was kidnapped far away and I only saw her once a week. So I decided to escape from this unjust country. I was able to sneak out of my country across the borders with the help of smugglers, and illegally entered Turkish territory. I endured more than my body could handle, lived in unforgettable horror, but at the same time I defeated Mansouri and his injustice. My daughter and I started a new life together, without courts, clerics, pursuits nor prisons.
During my stay in Turkey, I did not stop thinking about the mothers who objected to the compulsory veil in the streets and squares. I thought about their children and their families. I prayed for them to be comforted and soothed, and not to be forced to confront a person like Mansouri.”
“My daughter and I live together happily and freely thousands of miles away from Iran. As for Mansouri, he was also thousands of miles away from Iran, but he died alone, miserable and humiliated. This does not mean that I am satisfied with the way his life ended, I would have preferred to see him subjected to a fair trial, in which I would be a witness.”
“Mansouri didn’t kill me, but he caused the death of hundreds. He also caused the injustice and torture of countless prisoners who live in Iran. Those who are waiting for a day when justice will be served, and their tormentors and oppressors will be punished. The news of his death did not heal me or make me happy. Only the serving of justice would come as the good news that will bring healing, and it will undoubtedly break out soon.”