The family of Mahsa Amini, whose death in police custody sparked weeks of mass protest across Iran, is facing increased pressure and surveillance from Iran’s central security forces, as well as Kurdistan provincial agencies.
An informed source told IranWire: "Members of Mahsa Amini's family have received many death threats from the security forces."
Lawyers acting for Mahsa’s family this week say they’ve launched legal action against those responsible for her death.
"We have filed a complaint against all those who may be responsible for Mahsa's death, and we will announce it soon,” the family’s lawyer, Saleh Nikbakht, told Ham-Mihan newspaper. “We have informed the investigator of the case. It is now under investigation in the criminal court. This investigation is confidential. We do not wish to discuss it at this time."
Mahsa Amini – known by her family by her Kurdish given name of Gina – was arrested by the morality police during a visit to Tehran on September 14. News of her death was published three days later and ignited the "Women, Life, Freedom" protests which have spread across Iran.
The legal claim challenges the official explanation for the 22-year-old’s death.
On October 7, the Iranian Legal Medicine Organization published a report on the cause of Mahsa’s death in the custody of the morality police.
The report states that Mahsa underwent brain surgery as a child to treat an underlying problem in her brain. Her family has consistently said that their daughter had no history of serious illness. The report also said that her death was not caused by "injury to the head, or to other vital organs and parts of the body."
Mahsa spent three days in a coma before her death was announced on September 16. Photos of the 22-year-old in hospital, showing bruises and bleeding around her ear, have led doctors to conclude that her death was most likely caused by a head injury.
Before the report was released, Mahsa’s parents published a letter requesting that the investigation into her death be conducted with the presence of five neurologists and a psychologist, and that the forensic report be approved by renowned doctors such as "Dr. Seyed Ali Tabatabai, Dr. Kazem Abbasioun, Dr. Houshang Moein, Dr. Ali Meshkini, Dr. Musa Taghipour, Dr. Mohammad Farajirad, Dr. Khosro Parsa, Dr. Babak Zamani, Dr. Gholamreza Bahadorkhan and Dr. Reza Bagheri" along with "cardiologist Dr. Saifollah Abdi and psychiatrist Dr. Mohammad Sanati."
Mahsa’s family said that they would not accept any conclusions without getting the opinion of their trusted doctors. They have rejected the Legal Medicine Organization's report.
In an interview published on Monday, Nikbakht told the paper that: "According to the inquiries that we, as the lawyers in this case, have made by talking to neurosurgeons, surgery for a brain tumour that was performed on Mahsa 15 years ago did not have any part to play in her death, which occurred about 100 minutes after her arrest."
Nikbakht said the legal team had met Dr. Shirvani, the brain surgeon who operated on Mahsa at Milad Hospital. He said “As to whether the cause of Mahsa's death was the earlier surgery, he clearly said no. Many prominent neurosurgeons agree on this matter.”
The forensic report into Mahsa’s death also revealed that she had been prescribed three separate medicines for a thyroid condition related to her surgery. Nikbakht agreed that Mahsa was taking levothyroxine but only needed to take hydrocortisone and desmopressin occasionally. Her father said she had been taking her thyroid medicine as required. “The latest test that was taken from Mahsa was on August 11 of this year, and after seeing the results, the doctor did not change the dosage of the medicine and declared that Mahsa did not have any particular problem."
Nikbakht added: "The endocrinologist has declared that the thyroid disease itself did not play a direct role in Mahsa's death."
Nikbaht also claims the forensic report was published prematurely: "The announcement of the forensic medicine opinion, before it was communicated to the parents and lawyers, was quite unexpected, considering the confidentiality of the investigation according to Article 19 of the Criminal Procedure Law.”
IranWire previously reported that the family had been pressured by security forces to make false statements about their daughter’s death. Her family has so far disputed every version of events advanced by the government.