Gay campaigners outraged after Khatami avoids arrest

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Gay campaigners are outraged after the Metropolitan Police decided not to question former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami on human rights abuses as he arrives in the UK to collect an honorary doctorate from St Andrews University tonight.

Gay rights group Outrage joined calls from politicians and former Iran residents to have Mr Khatami arrested on charges of torture and unjust imprisonment, but the police last night decided there was “insufficient evidence” to arrest the former leader.

Safa Einollahi, 29, and Ali Ebrahimi, 34 claim they were tortured and falsely imprisoned while Mr Khatami was in power because they had protested against the government.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, the men documented incidents of beatings, torture and rape.

Liberal Democrat leader Menzies Campbell was due to hand out the award but pulled out amid criticism last week, claiming he is attending a Westminster debate.

Outrage’s Peter Tatchell criticised the decision not to press charges, “During his eight-year tenure as President of Iran, from 1997 to 2004, thousands of Iranians were detained without trial and subjected to savage torture by Iran’s secret police. Over 200 people were executed.”

He said Mr Khatami should not be given a doctorate, “Giving Khatami an honorary doctorate is the moral equivalent of honouring Chilean ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet.

“Well known victims of state-sanctioned murder during Khatami’s rule include the Iranian-Canadian photographer, Zahra Kazemi, who was tortured and battered to death by Iranian security agents in 2003, and four copper mine workers who were shot dead in Shahr Babak, Kerman province, in 2004, when they staged a peaceful protest against


“Khatami never spoke out against these abuses, let alone acted to halt them.

“What is the point of having human rights laws if people accused of serious crimes like torture are never even questioned by the police, let alone bought before a judge to have the evidence against them assessed?”