Amid questions raised by an opposition leader on sexual assault on prisoners detained in the post-election protests, Iran's Majlis Speaker dismisses the allegations.
"Claims of sexual abuse of detained protestors are sheer lies," Ali Larijani said on Wednesday.
"Following a precise and comprehensive inquiry into (the treatment of) detainees at Kahrizak and Evin prisons, no cases of rape or sexual abuse were found," he added.
If defeated presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, who first raised the prisoners' abuse issue, could present evidence of such outrages, then the Majlis would investigate them, Larijani said.
The issue of the alleged torture and abuse of protesters, who had been detained after the June 12 presidential vote, took a new turn after Karroubi, a leading Reformist cleric, raised questions about the sexual abuse of detainees.
In a letter - dated July 29 but revealed 10 days later - to the powerful head of the Assembly of Experts and the Expediency Council Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, Karroubi urged a probe into various abuses, including 'jail rape' reports, according to which male and female detainees in Kahrizak are said to have been subjected to serious sexual abuse.
"The people who informed me about these events hold sensitive positions in the country ... these officials told me of the things that happened in the detention centers that even if one count is true, it would be a tragedy for the Islamic Republic... and it would overshadow the sins of many dictatorships including that of the deposed Shah," Karroubi said in his letter.
The letter prompted Larijani to assign a special parliamentary committee to seriously probe into the allegations.
In his Wednesday speech, Larijani warned politicians to 'be cautious about claims' and urged them not to publicize allegations before investigation.
Ayatollah Rafsanjani, in a Tuesday meeting with judiciary lawyers, touched upon the issue by insisting that respecting detainees' rights is essential for passing a fair and just verdict.
The developments come as courts are conducting televised mass trials of hundreds of opposition figures, protesters and journalists on various charges, including that of 'plotting to topple the system' in the wake of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election in June.
The official vote results were met by an outpouring of anger by supporters of defeated presidential candidates Karroubi and Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who alleged that serious 'allot rigging' had taken place and took to the streets in massive protests to press their demand for an independent enquiry and a re-run.
The crackdown on the demonstrations, which were held despite bans by the Interior Ministry, led to the arrests of thousands of protesters, many of whom have been released.
According to official figures, at least 30 people were killed in the post-vote unrest. The opposition, however, puts the number at about 70.
The Kahrizak detention camp south of Tehran gained particular notoriety for the maltreatment of detainees and the police have admitted that corporal punishment and other abuses had taken place there. It has been ordered shut in the past weeks and a number of its guards and directors are said to have been 'punished'.
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