Iranian coroner denies Mahsa Amini died from blows to body

Findings are likely to be disputed by Iranian demonstrators, after father previously said she had been hit while in the custody of the ‘morality police’.

A view of Iranian newspapers with headlines of the death of 22 years old Mahsa Amini.
Mahsa Amini died after being arrested by Iran's morality police [File: Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency]

The death of Mahsa Amini while in the custody of Iran’s “morality police” was not a result of being hit but due to an underlying illness, Iran’s coroner has said, in a finding that is likely to be rejected by Iranian protesters who have demonstrated since her death on September 16.

Iran’s Forensic Organisation said in an official medical report published on Friday that “Mahsa Amini’s death was not caused by blows to the head and vital organs and limbs of the body”.

It instead attributed the death of the 22 year old – which sparked a wave of nationwide unrest – to multiple organ failure caused by cerebral hypoxia, or lack of oxygen to the brain, the official news agency IRNA reported.

Referring to the day she collapsed in custody, the coroner’s report said Amini had regained consciousness before falling again due to what it described as “underlying diseases”.

“Due to the ineffective cardio-respiratory resuscitation in the first critical minutes, she suffered severe hypoxia and as a result brain damage despite recovery from cardiac functioning,” it said.

Amini was arrested in Tehran on September 13 for “inappropriate attire”, and died three days later while in custody, sparking demonstrations that represent the biggest challenge to Iran’s leaders in years.

The lawyer for Amini’s family, Saleh Nikbakht, previously told the semi-official Etemadonline news website that “respectable doctors” believe she was hit in custody.

Her father also said that she suffered bruises to her legs and held the police responsible for her death.

The police, however, deny that Amini suffered any harm. Authorities had previously said she suffered a heart attack after being taken to a station to be “educated”.

Separately, Iran’s judiciary on Thursday denied reports that security forces killed a teenage girl at a protest last month against the death of Amini.

Rights group Amnesty International said on September 30 that 16-year-old Sarina Esmailzadeh “died after being severely beaten in the head with batons” a week after taking part in demonstrations in Tehran.

Mizan Online, the judiciary’s website, said that “hostile media” had reported Esmailzadeh “had been killed by security forces at a rally” in Karaj, the regional capital of Alborz province.

Mizan quoted Alborz province prosecutor Hossein Fazeli Harikandi as saying that an “initial investigation” shows she had “committed suicide”.

Esmailzadeh “jumped 20 minutes after midnight on September 24” from “a building situated near her grandmother’s house” in the northeast of the city, Harikandi said.

“According to the medicolegal report, the cause of death was a shock caused by the impact,” he added, denying that there had been any reports of “riots” taking place in the area.

On September 25, Tasnim news agency reported the arrest of “riot leaders” in “several districts of Karaj including Rajaishahr” adjacent to Azimieh where Harikandi said the girl died.

The judiciary on Wednesday also said the death of another 16-year-old girl, Nika Shahkarami, was not linked to Amini protests. She went missing on September 20 after a protest in the capital.

In a video sent on Thursday to foreign-based Persian-language media, Shahkarami’s mother blamed the authorities for her death.

The demonstrations across Iran have led to dozens of deaths among protesters and members of the security forces, as well as hundreds of arrests.

Female protesters filmed themselves burning their hijabs and cutting their hair in an act of defiance against Iran’s dress code for women that was picked up on by celebrities abroad, including Oscar-winning actors Marion Cotillard and Juliette Binoche.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei has blamed the United States and Israel for the unrest, accusing the countries of trying to stop Iran’s “progress”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies