TEHRAN -- Iranian's national police chief fired the commander of Tehran's cybercrimes police unit on Saturday for negligence in the death of a blogger in prison.
The dismissal of the commander, Gen. Saeed Shokrian, follows investigations by Parliament and Iran's judiciary into the unexplained death of the blogger, Sattar Beheshti, 35, who died in early November just a few days after being arrested by the cybercrimes police unit, known here as FATA.
"Tehran's FATA should be held responsible for the death of Sattar Beheshti," said Iran's national police chief, Ismael Ahmadi-Moqaddam, according to the Iranian Labor News Agency.
It is unclear whether General Shokrian will also face judicial charges over the blogger's death.
The public nature of his dismissal suggests that he will bear most of the responsibility for the death. In similar cases in the past, officials have been punished, but it is rare for them to be named and publicly dismissed on the same day.
Mr. Beheshti's Web site, My Life for My Iran, criticized Iran's financial contributions to the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon. Mr. Beheshti posted pictures of Lebanese youths having parties alongside images of Iranians living in poverty.
The exact cause of Mr. Beheshti's death remains murky. Mr. Ahmadi-Moqaddam said Tuesday that investigations had ruled out torture as a cause of death, saying it was possible that Mr. Beheshti, who in pictures looks big and strong, died of "psychological shock."
Iranian activists and bloggers say Mr. Beheshti died of injuries following beatings. Iran's judiciary spokesman, Gholam Hussein Mohseni-Ejei, recently admitted that Mr. Beheshti -- while in prison -- had lodged a written complaint against an interrogator, in which he accused the man of having beaten him during his detention in Tehran's Evin prison.
"I, Sattar Beheshti, was arrested by FATA and beaten and tortured with multiple blows to my head and body," read the document, published by the opposition Kalame Web site. He added, "If anything happens to me, the police are responsible."
Mr. Ahmadi-Moqaddam said that Mr. Beheshti was given tranquilizers while in the prison's clinic, but that when handed over to the cybercrimes unit its officers denied him the same tranquilizers. "This might be regarded as neglect," he said. "However, there were no signs of beatings on his body."
Official statements on the cause of death have been contradictory. An influential member of Parliament who earlier denied that Mr. Beheshti had been tortured in any way told the Tabnak Web site that the blogger had been beaten, but died of shock and fear.
"Definitely he was beaten inside the FATA detention center," the lawmaker, Alaeddin Borujerdi, told the Web site, "but he didn't die as a result of these beatings." He also stressed that the cybercrimes unit must change the way it deals with prisoners.
Iranian activists who have been in contact with Mr. Beheshti's family say his relatives were not allowed to see his body before a hurried funeral on Nov. 6 in his hometown, Robat Karim, 30 miles southwest of the capital, Tehran.
In Mr. Beheshti's final post, on Oct. 29, a day before his arrest, he said he was being threatened by security officials. "They told me that if I didn't close my big mouth my mother should prepare to wear black clothes," for mourning.
The Iranian Parliament's special investigator into the case, Mehdi Davatgari, said he welcomed the commander's removal. "This move shows the civil rights of our citizens are our top priority," he said.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.