BUCHAREST -- A former Iranian judge sought by his homeland to face corruption charges has been found dead in Romania’s capital, officials say.
Police in Bucharest said a 52-year-old man on June 19 died after apparently falling from a higher floor of a hotel.
The man was a “foreign national under judicial control” accused of “crimes allegedly committed on the territory of another country," they said in a statement, adding that an investigation into his death was under way.
Official sources confirmed to RFE/RL local media reports saying that the man in question was Gholamreza Mansouri, who fled Iran last year after authorities there alleged he took some 500,000 euros ($560,000) in bribes.
Iran's Interpol chief, Brigadier General Hadi Shirzad, quoted Romanian authorities as telling Iran that Mansouri "had thrown himself out of the window of his hotel,” according to Iran's semiofficial INSA news agency.
Romanian police detained Mansouri earlier this month and a court had been expected to rule next month on whether to extradite him.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Musavi said the former judge had recently visited the Iranian Embassy in Bucharest and discussed how to return to Iran, the state-run IRNA news agency reported.
In a video statement posted online last week, Mansouri denied the charges, saying he left Iran for unspecified medical treatment and that coronavirus travel restrictions prevented him from returning home. He didn’t give details about his whereabouts.
Meanwhile, human rights groups and media freedom watchdogs said Mansouri was in Germany, where they said he should be prosecuted for ordering the mass arrest of reporters while serving as a judge in Tehran.
Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) filed a complaint with Germany’s Federal Public Prosecutor, accusing Mansouri of being responsible for the "arrest and torture" of at least 20 journalists in 2013.
And the London-based rights group Justice For Iran called for information that could lead to Mansouri’s prosecution in Germany.
Citing the testimony of "a significant number" of journalists, Justice For Iran said that Mansouri was "responsible for issuing arrest warrants against them."
"These journalists were interrogated for months in [Tehran’s] Evin prison in solitary confinement and pressured to confess against themselves and others."
RSF later said it had filed a second complaint with Romanian authorities after learning Mansouri had slipped away from Germany.
Mansouri was detained by Romanian police on an Interpol arrest warrant upon arrival in the country on June 12. The ex-judge was later released from custody and placed under judicial control, meaning he was banned from leaving Romania and should regularly report to the authorities.
Romanian authorities have asked Tehran to officially submit an extradition request, as well as details about the charges against Mansouri.
The Bucharest Court of Appeal was set to consider the case on July 10.
Mansouri was among several judges who were accused of corruption during the high-profile trial of a former senior judiciary official that opened in Tehran this month.