DUBAI: An Iranian coroner’s report into the death of Mahsa Amini said she did not die due to blows to the head and limbs but from multiple organ failure caused by cerebral hypoxia, or lack of oxygen to the brain, the official news agency IRNA reported on Friday.
The death of 22-year-old Amini while in the custody of Iran’s morality police has ignited more than two weeks of nationwide protests. Her father has said she suffered bruises to her legs, and has held the police responsible for her death.
The coroner’s report said her death was “not caused by blow to the head and limbs”. It did not say whether she had suffered any injuries.
Amini was arrested in Tehran on Sept. 13 for “inappropriate attire”, and died three days later while in custody, sparking demonstrations that represent the biggest challenge to Iran’s clerical leaders in years.
Referring to the day she collapsed in custody, the coroner’s report said she 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.
“She died due to multiple organ failure caused by cerebral hypoxia.” 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.
The police have denied she suffered any harm. The police had previously said she suffered a heart attack after being taken to a station to be “educated”.
Her family deny she had any heart problems. Iran denies security forces killed teen at Amini protest
Iran’s judiciary meanwhile denied reports that security forces killed a teenage girl at a protest last month against the death of Amini, saying instead that she committed suicide.
Mizan Online, the judiciary’s website, said late Thursday that “hostile media” reported Sarina Esmailzadeh “had been killed by security forces at a rally” in Karaj, the regional capital of Alborz province.
Rights group Amnesty International said on September 30 that Esmailzadeh, 16, “died after being severely beaten in the head with batons” a week earlier.
Alborz province prosecutor Hossein Fazeli Harikandi said that an “initial investigation” shows she had “committed suicide”, Mizan reported.
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 added.
“According to the medicolegal report, the cause of death was a shock caused by the impact,” the prosecutor was quoted as saying.
“There had not been any riots in the part of Karaj where this incident happened.”
Mother disputes version
The mother of the girl has disputed official claims that her daughter fell to her death from a high building, saying the teen was killed by blows to the head as part of the crackdown on anti-hijab protests roiling the country.
Nasreen Shakarami also said authorities kept her daughter Nika’s death a secret for nine days and then snatched the body from a morgue to bury her in a remote area, against the family’s wishes. The bereaved mother spoke in a video message Thursday to Radio Farda, the Persian-language arm of the US-funded station Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
Nika Shakarami has become the latest icon of the protests, seen as the gravest threat to Iran’s ruling elites in years. Attempts by authorities in recent days to portray the teen’s death as an accident could signal concern that the incident is fueling further anger against the government.
The protests, which enter their fourth week Saturday, were sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the morality police. They had detained Amini for alleged violations of the country’s strict Islamic dress code.
Young women have often been leading the protests, tearing off and defiantly waving their headscarves as they call for toppling the government.
Meanwhile, Nika Shakarami’s mother pushed back against attempts by officials to frame her daughter’s death as an accident.
In her video message, she said that the forensics report showed that Nika had died from repeated blows to the head.
Nika’s body was intact, but some of her teeth, bones in her face and part of the back of her skull were broken, she said. “The damage was to her head,’’ she said. “Her body was intact, arms and legs.’’
Earlier this week, Iran’s police chief, Gen. Hossein Ashtari, claimed that the teen had gone to a building ``and fell from the upper floor at a time of gatherings.’’ He said that ``the fall from that height led to her death.’’
Nasreen Shakarami said her daughter left her home in Tehran in the afternoon of Sept. 19 to join anti-hijab protests. She said she was in touch by phone with Nika several times in the next few hours, pleading with her to come home. They last spoke before midnight. “Then Nika’s mobile was off, after she and her friends were shouting names of forces while they were fleeing,’’ she said.
No word for 9 days
The following morning, the family searched for Nika at police stations and prisons, but had no word of her whereabouts for nine days. Authorities finally handed over the body on the 10th day and the family headed to the city of Khoramabad for burial, she said. Authorities repeatedly demanded to take possession of the body, which was in the meantime stored in the Khoramabad morgue.
On the day of the planned funeral the family learned that the body had been snatched from the morgue and was taken to a remote village for burial, under heavy security, Nasreen Shakarami said.
Since the confirmation of her death, Nika has emerged as another icon of the protests, alongside Amini. A photo of Nika, wearing a black T-shirt and sporting a stylish two-tone bob haircut and eyeliner, has been widely circulated on social media.
Authorities arrested Nasreen Shakarami’s brother and sister. The sister, Atash, later said on Iranian TV that her niece fell from a high building.
Nika’s mother said she believes her siblings had been pressured to echo the official version.
Artist turns Iran fountains red to reflect bloody crackdown
Fountains in Tehran appeared to be pouring blood on Friday after an artist turned their waters red to reflect a deadly crackdown amid weeks of protests.
Images of the blood red fountains were shared online by the 1500tasvir social media channel that monitors violations in the Islamic republic.
The fountains shown are located in downtown Tehran - in Student Park, Fatemi Square and Artists’ Park.