Iran’s police chief plays down commander’s ‘sex scandal‘
By Agence France Presse (AFP)
Monday, April 21, 2008
Prostitute in Iran
TEHRAN: Iran’s police chief has rejected allegations that a former top commander was arrested after being found with several naked women, saying the accusation was more “personal and minor,” the Fars news agency reported on Sunday. Reza Zareie, who was the head of police for Tehran province and enforced one of Iran’s toughest moral crackdowns in years, has been detained and placed under investigation on undisclosed charges.
Persian-language Web sites have been abuzz with speculation over the circumstances of his arrest, with several outlets alleging he was found in a “house of corruption” with six naked prostitutes.
However Iran’s police chief Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam said the accusations were less serious than those reported by the Web sites and denied that six women had been involved.
“I deny all accusations which the newspapers and news sites have attributed to him,” Fars quoted him as telling state television in an interview late on Saturday.
“He has never betrayed the [police] organization. The accusation against him is personal, more minor and less significant than what is being portrayed,” he added.
Ahmadi Moghaddam also expressed the hope that Zareie would be cleared of the charges.
“It was not a question of six [women] and not a question of exploiting his position or disgrace. He has, at most, committed an undignified personal act,” the conservative Tabnak news site also quoted him as saying.
However, Ahmadi Moghaddam did not specify what this “undignified act” was.
The Iranian judiciary has confirmed that Zareie has been arrested and that his case is being investigated by prosecutors. But it has also not disclosed what the charges are.
“At this stage I am not allowed to provide extensive information. He is at the moment detained, and his case is being investigated,” judiciary spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi said on Tuesday.
The case is a potential major embarrassment for Iran’s police amid the strictest moral crackdown in years which has seen tens of thousands of women warned for infringing the strict dress code rules in the Islamic Republic.
The campaign has also targeted thugs, in a bid to improve security and rid society of drug dealers, junkies, pimps, extortionists and thieves.
Unlike similar campaigns in the past which wound down rapidly, vans of the moral police have become ever-present in Tehran’s main squares as officials monitor women passersby. The police have insisted that their drive is popular with the public, but some moderates have questioned the need for the moral crackdown. – AFP