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Iranian Lawmakers Call for Probe Into Alleged Prison Beatings

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April 22 (Bloomberg) -- A group of nine Iranian lawmakers urged the country’s justice minister to investigate claims that political prisoners in Tehran’s Evin jail were beaten by guards, after inmates’ families protested outside parliament.

Ali Motahari, a politician who joined the appeal for a probe, said an April 20 account of the incident by the head of Iran’s Prison Organization had been unconvincing, the Iranian Students’ News Agency reported. Relatives who gathered outside the legislature said that prisoners in the jail’s Ward 350 had been assaulted on April 17.

The conservative-leaning Tabnak news website said that 11 satellite phones and a laptop were seized from cells, equipment it said had been used to communicate with “foreign anti-revolution elements.” Tabnak quoted a member of Iran’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Mohammad Esmail Kowsari.

While his nuclear diplomacy with world powers has received backing from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani is facing increasing criticism from conservative opponents over domestic issues, such as his pledges to increase freedom of the press and improve human rights.

In a separate development, 11 lawmakers pressured Rouhani to explain why his wife and the spouses of several ministers held an event at one of Tehran’s former royal palaces to mark the nation’s Mother’s Day, Fars news agency reported today.

Student groups had earlier branded the gathering at the 19th-century Saad Abad palace an “aristocratic party” that “insulted the people,” the Fars news agency said.

A former residence of the deposed Shah of Iran, the palace is now a museum, and sits next to the official residence of the president.

“If the president’s wife wants to host a party, she should do it in her own home,” Tehran lawmaker Ruhollah Hosseinian was quoted by the Mehr news agency as saying.

To contact the reporter on this story: Golnar Motevalli in Tehran at gmotevalli@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net Mark Williams, Caroline Alexander

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