By JERUSALEM POST STAFFPublished: DECEMBER 19, 2009 20:04
Iran's hard-line judiciary acknowledged for the first time Saturday that at least three prisoners detained after June's disputed presidential election were beaten to death by their jailers, confirming a key claim by the country's opposition movement.
The surprising acknowledgment followed months of repeated denials by police and other authorities that the deaths of protesters in Iranian custody were caused by abuse.
In a statement, the judiciary said 12 officials at Kahrizak prison were charged - three of them with murder. The prison, on the southern outskirts of the capital, Teheran, was at the center of the opposition's claims that prisoners were tortured and raped in custody.
The claims embarrassed Iran's clerical rulers and forced Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to order the closure of the facility.
Police and judiciary officials had for months rejected the claims, saying the deaths were caused by illnesses, not physical mistreatment. Authorities fired back, accusing the opposition of running a campaign of lies against the ruling system.
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