Forensic medicine staff carry a body bag, allegedly containing the remains of Gholamreza Mansouri, outside a hotel in downtown Bucharest, Romania, June 19, 2020. (REUTERS)

By Frank Elbers

June 30, 2020

Iran has urged the Romanian government to clarify the cause of death of Gholamreza Mansouri, the former judge who was found dead at a Bucharest hotel on Friday, June 19.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson Seyed Abbas Mousavi said on June 29 that ambiguities over the facts of the incident remain, and the Romanian government has so far failed to inform Iranian officials about the investigation process, despite several requests.

“The Romanian government needs to officially notify the Islamic Republic of any incident that has happened,” Mousavi said. “Given the sensitivity and complexity of the case, we urge the Romanian government to keep us informed.”

An earlier complaint by the Iranian authorities was rebuked by Romanian authorities last Monday, June 22. Romania’s foreign ministry summoned Iranian ambassador Morteza Aboutalebi to discuss Mansouri’s death, and warned Aboutalebi that the case was the subject of an ongoing investigation. Romanian officials told him that the results would be communicated to Iranian authorities via official channels immediately after the investigation had been completed.

The autopsy on Mansouri’s body took place on Tuesday, June 23. The body had signs of multiple injuries, which investigators say could be an indication that he had fallen from the sixth floor of the Hotel Duke in central Bucharest.

Toxicological tests were expected to be completed by Thursday, June 24, a Bucharest Police spokesperson told IranWire. The toxicological report will show if Mansouri was poisoned or if he had taken substances that would have produced intense dizziness. After initial investigations, the investigation team will pursue the hypothesis that Mansouri committed suicide, but a crime has not been ruled out, according to the Bucharest Police. The prosecutor and the police homicide department assigned to the case are also reviewing CCTV footage from the hotel.

No further details have emerged from the ongoing investigation since June 23. The Bucharest Prosecutor’s Office spokesperson Simona Mihaela Prescorniță told IranWire that a press release outlining the final results of the investigation is expected to be issued soon; there will be no press conference about the investigation. Hotel Duke employees have spoken to IranWire several times since the mysterious death occurred, but have since stated they are no longer willing to speak to the press.

On the morning of June 29, there was a bomb threat at the Bucharest Court of Appeal, the court that had put Mansouri under judicial control instead of arranging his extradition to Iran. The court building, a 19th-century palace, was evacuated and pedestrian and car traffic restricted in the area, a busy thoroughfare along the Dâmbovița River. But police did not find an explosive device and nor could the call be verified, the local Agerpres reported.

Mansouri, a former judge who had been convicted in Iran on corruption charges, had apparently fled to Germany in early June and subsequently traveled to Romania, where he was detained by authorities after Interpol had issued an arrest warrant for the fugitive. On June 12, Mansouri appeared in court, as Iran had requested his extradition for allegedly accepting a €500,000 bribe. The Bucharest Court of Appeal rejected the prosecutor’s request for Mansouri to remain in police custody and ordered the authorities to evaluate if he could be safely extradited to Iran. Romania has no extradition agreement with Iran.

Not allowed to leave the country and required to report to a local police station regularly, Gholamreza Mansouri had stayed in the Hotel Duke in downtown Bucharest’s Piața Romană roundabout, awaiting his next court hearing, which was scheduled for July 10. It was here that his body was found on Friday, June 19, under suspect circumstances.

Iran Wire

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