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Iran Removes Prisons Chief Amid Probe Into Abuses

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April 23 (Bloomberg) -- Iran replaced the head of its prison service a day after lawmakers called on the government to investigate allegations that guards had beaten inmates at Tehran’s Evin jail.

Gholamhossein Esmaili will quit the job to become head of the judiciary in Tehran province, with his post taken by Asghar Jahangir, according to the semi-official Fars News agency.

A group of nine lawmakers yesterday urged Iran’s justice minister to look into claims by the families of prisoners, who staged a weekend protest outside Evin prison, that inmates had been assaulted by guards.

Ali Motahari, a politician who joined the appeal, said an April 20 account of the incident by Esmaili had been unconvincing, the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) reported.

Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani, the head of the judiciary, said that inspections at Evin had uncovered no signs of wrongdoing, and that the incident was being used as a pretext for sedition, according to Fars. That term is often used by officials to refer to the protests that followed the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009.

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 complaint on Tuesday, 11 lawmakers and students groups criticized Rouhani for allowing his wife and the spouses of several ministers to hold an event to mark Mother’s Day in Iran in a former royal palace in Tehran.

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 Ben Holland, Caroline Alexander

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