An Iranian provincial police chief says just one of the 13 defendants charged in the gang rape of a woman near the northeastern town of Kashmar has confessed to the crime, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.
Bahman Amiri-Moghadam, police chief in Razavi Khorasan Province, said there are ambiguities in the case, including the fact that "the person who reported it had problems himself," the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) reported.
In late April, at least 10 men reportedly attacked and raped a woman who was returning from work in a village near Kashmar.
Mostafa Ghoreshi Yazdi, the judicial enforcement officer of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of Kashmar, reported the attack to the city's prosecutor but told him not to follow the case unless the alleged victim filed a complaint, Mehr News Agency reported.
Ghoreshi Yazdi -- who was arrested after he continued to investigate the case but was later released on bail -- also said that a number of suspects who were taken into custody shortly after the incident were released as the rape victim was in hospital and could not lodge a complaint.
Norway-based lawyer Mahnaz Parakan told Radio Farda on July 18 that since one defendant had already confessed to the crime, it was irrelevant whether the person who reported the incident "has problems" or not.
Parakan added that under Islamic law, no plaintiff is required for crimes such as rape. He said the prosecutor is obliged to follow up on the case and prosecute the defendants as soon as he receives a rape report.
Three gang-rape cases have been reported in Iranian provinces in recent months.
In late June, Iranian police chief Esmaeel Ahmadi Moghadam criticized the domestic media
for its "extensive coverage" of those cases, which he said would cause "a sense of insecurity in society."