Death in Dubai raises intrigue in Iranian media

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REPORTING FROM TEHRAN AND BEIRUT -- The reported death in Dubai of the son of a prominent Iranian politician and former Revolutionary Guard commander has generated suspicion in the Iranian media.

Though local police call it a case of suicide, the Iranian media have raised questions about the death of Ahmed Rezaei, whose body was found Saturday in his hotel suite in the United Arab Emirates, according to news reports.


He is the son of Mohsen Rezaei, who serves as secretary-general of Iran’s influential Expediency Council, which advises Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iranian filmmaker Ebrahim Hatamikia is said to have taken inspiration from the Rezaeis’ complex father-son relationship for his 2000 feature, ‘Dead Wave,’ which explores the generation gap between veterans of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war and their children.

The Abu Dhabi-based English daily the National said the body of Rezaei, 31, was found in his room at the four-star Hotel Gloria in Dubai Media City on Saturday. Police believe it was a suicide, according to the newspaper.

‘There is no criminal suspicion,’ the paper quoted Khalil Mansouri, head of the Dubai police’s criminal investigation department, as saying. Mansouri added that forensic tests indicated that Ahmed Rezaei had been dead for about 12 hours before his body was found.

A police official speaking on condition of anonimity told the Associated Press that the body was found by hotel staff with a slit wrist.

Iran’s semi-official Mehr News Agency, however, said Rezaei had died of an ‘electric shock.’

Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency, the semi-official Fars News Agency and Tabnak, a website close to the father of the deceased, all declared that the death was ‘suspicious.’ They did not elaborate.

The speaker of the Iranian Parliament, Ali Larijani, has sent a cable to Mohsen Rezaei offering condolences, Iranian media reports said.

The elder Rezaei once commanded the Revolutionary Guard Corps and ran unsuccessfully against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran’s disputed 2009 elections.

His relationship with his son was shrouded in controversy, according to media reports. Ahmed Rezaei reportedly left Iran for the United States in 1998 after having criticized his father and the government of the Islamic Republic. He returned to Iran five years later and left again in 2009, according to the Reuters news agency. He is said to have married at least once.

According to the Tabnak website, Ahmed Rezaei had a contract with the hotel for a long-term stay. Housekeepers had failed to attend to his room for the past three days, the website said.

The report said Rezaei’s brother traveled to Dubai to reclaim the body and further investigate the circumstances of his death. The last call between Ahmed and his family took place on Wednesday evening, the website said.


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-- Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran and Alexandra Sandels in Beirut