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Daniel Zeinolabedini is a juvenile offender who reportedly died in prison after being beaten by guards.

The United Nations says it is "horrified" by the death of a juvenile offender in Iran, following reported beatings by prison guards after inmates protested to be released due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The United Nations says it is "horrified" by the death of a juvenile offender in Iran, following reported beatings by prison guards after inmates protested to be released due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said on April 3 it had received information that Daniel Zeinolabedini died after he was reportedly "badly beaten" following a prison riot in Iran's West Azerbaijan Province on March 28.

Detainees at Mahabad prison were protesting against their "prison conditions and the failure of the authorities to temporarily release them amid the COVID-19 pandemic," spokesman Rupert Colville said in a virtual press briefing.

Media in Iran, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, have reported unrest in several prisons, despite the temporary release of some 100,000 inmates to curb prison overcrowding.

There has been no report of the alleged incident in West Azerbaijan Province.

Zeinolabedini, who was on death row for a murder he allegedly committed in September 2017 at the age of 17, has claimed his innocence, according to the UN rights office.

He was put in solitary confinement and beaten by security officials at Mahabad prison, before being transferred to Miandoab prison in the same region, where he also suffered abuse.

"His family said he called them on March 31 to tell them he had been badly beaten, could hardly breathe, and desperately needed help. His death was confirmed on April 2," Colville said.

The rights office said it was "particularly shocked" because Zeinolabedini's conviction and death sentence were upheld by Iran's Supreme Court, despite international human rights law prohibiting death sentences for crimes committed by minors.

The spokesman called on the Iranian authorities to conduct an "independent and impartial" investigation into the death and hold those responsible to account.

Colville expressed concern about at the fate of "six other people who were also reportedly beaten during the riot on March 28 and taken to Miandoab prison," and urged the authorities "to take all measures to protect their lives."

With reporting by Reuters and AFP
Aqil Humbatov criticized the president on Facebook. (file photo)

A member of the opposition Popular Front Of Azerbaijan (AXCP) has been detained by police a day after he was released from a psychiatric clinic where he was held against his will for almost three days.

BAKU -- A member of the opposition Popular Front Of Azerbaijan (AXCP) has been detained by police a day after he was released from a psychiatric clinic where he was held against his will for almost three days.

Aqil Humbatov's wife, Aygun Humbatova, told RFE/RL that her husband's co-workers told her that two men in civilian clothing apprehended the activist in Baku's Xazar district at around 5 p.m. on April 2.

According to Humbatova, she has not been able to locate her husband, nor have Baku city police given a reason for his detention.

Humbatov told RFE/RL earlier that he was detained on March 30, a day after he placed a post on Facebook that criticized the government and President Ilham Aliyev for ignoring the rights of poor children, many of whom need medical treatment.

The same day, a court ruled that Humbatov must be placed in a psychiatric clinic, citing some witnesses who claimed that they saw Humbatov taking off his trousers outdoors.

On April 1, Humbatov was abruptly released, after which he placed new posts on Facebook describing the conditions in the psychiatric clinic as "inhuman" and "horrible."

Critics of longtime President Aliyev's government say the authorities in the oil-rich South Caucasus country frequently seek to silence dissent by jailing opposition activists, reporters, human rights defenders, and civil society advocates without grounds.

Dozens of AXCP members have been arrested, and some imprisoned, in recent years on what their supporters call trumped-up charges.

Aliyev denies any rights abuses. He took power in 2003 shortly before the death of his father, Heydar Aliyev, a former KGB officer and communist-era leader who had ruled Azerbaijan since 1993.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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