The Friday Imam of Rask in the Iranian border province of Sistan and Baluchistan has confirmed that a 15-year-old girl was raped by the local police chief earlier this month.
Molavi Abdul Ghaffar Naghshbandi said in a statement on Tuesday that the “horrific crime” had indeed occurred in Chabahar, as was reported earlier in September by some Persian media.
The cleric broke his silence amid massive nationwide protests following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old from Kurdistan who was arrested by Tehran’s “morality patrol” over her hijab.
Mahsa’s death from head injuries sparked fury inside and outside Iran at the regime’s misogynist policies and the brutality of the police in enforcing them.
The intervention is especially significant coming from a Friday Imam, as these clerics are supposed to act as representatives of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Naghshbandi named the perpetrator as Colonel Ebrahim Kouchakzaei, a local police commander. He said he had spoken to the teenager in person, as well as her family.
He had heard, he said, “the pain-filled, anguished voice of my oppressed little sister at close range. My breath was locked in my chest by the severity of the crime.
"I know it is my duty, in both faith and conscience, to break this deadly silence so that this aggressor will be punished for his shameful actions."
Naghshbandi further asked the judicial system to "investigate the different angles of the tragedy as soon as possible, and prosecute and punish this corrupt criminal in public".
Early reports of the death had caused disquiet within the clergy in Sistan and Baluchistan, a deprived region where impoverished fuel smugglers were violently suppressed by the IRGC last February.
Molavi Abdol Hamid, the Sunni Friday Imam of Zahedan city, claimed of the alleged rape: “We and the region’s scholars have been criticized for being silent. This silence of ours is meaningful. We have to check, so that the truth will out and we don’t make a mistake.”