Iranian soldier 'killed in custody'

Corpses of other dissidents returned to families after being arrested for helping opposition, sources say.

iranian reformists in court 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
iranian reformists in court 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
A young Iranian soldier, arrested late last week for allegedly stealing weapons for opposition groups, was killed in custody and his body returned to his family on Saturday, sources in Teheran said. The sources said the bodies of several dissidents, arrested in the course of anti-regime protests in Iran in recent weeks and evidently killed in detention, had also been returned to their families in the past few days. Several of the bodies bore signs of beatings, the sources said. "In Mashhad, I know of three young soldiers who were arrested two days ago," one source said. On Saturday, "one of their bodies was turned over to family members and loved ones. When I called his family to give my condolences, his sister said he looked like he had been beaten to death when her father received the body. Apparently, they were trying to get information out of him because he was accused of stealing weapons from the compound." The young man, who was drafted into the military after he graduated from secondary school, had been accused of supplying guns to opposition forces. "I sympathize for the family," the source said. "He was very brave for what he was trying to do. And I am not surprised that such activity is going on. I have heard rumors of an active underground that has been building up in other cities." About 80 kilometers outside of Teheran recently, another source said, a detention facility was raided by opposition forces, the detainees set free and the building set on fire. "There are many people who are tired of protesting in the streets," this source said. "They are ready to take action. Developments [such as the raid on the detention facility] will continue. And I am positive that the government will do everything in its power to prevent word of this from coming out. They are afraid it will give people hope." The sources also said the government was building new detention facilities on the outskirts of Teheran and other major cities. Current facilities have been overcrowded by the ongoing arrests since June's disputed presidential elections. They added that the Iranian authorities were recruiting prison guards in small towns and villages, and also expanding the ranks of the security apparatus. Internal dissent in the security and military ranks has been fairly widespread, another source said, but the regime has done its utmost to conceal such dissent from the foreign media. This source claimed some soldiers and police personnel "are beginning to join the opposition." There has been no independent confirmation of this. But witnesses have spoken of instances of police cooperating with protesters on Thursday, when the 40th day of mourning for those killed in the initial post-election demonstrations was marked by new anti-regime rallies.