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A senior United Nations official on Tuesday demanded an independent investigation into the d*ath of an Iranian woman being held by the country’s vice squad, after authorities admitted making arrests during protests over the incident.

The woman’s d*ath sparked protests across the country, including in the capital, Tehran, where protesters chanted against the government and clashed with police.

The UN Human Rights Office said Iran’s morality police have expanded their patrols in recent months, targeting women who do not wear the Islamic headscarf, known as the hijab, properly. He said verified videos show women slapped in the face, beaten with batons and thrown into police vans for wearing the hijab too loosely.

A similar patrol arrested Mahsa Amini, 22, last Tuesday, taking her to the police station where she collapsed. She died three days later. Iranian police have denied abusing Amini and say she died of a heart att*ck. Authorities say they are investigating the incident.

“The tragic d*ath of Mahsa Amini and the allegations of torture and ill-treatment must be promptly, impartially and effectively investigated by an independent competent authority,” said Nada Al-Nashif, acting High Commissioner for United Nations Human Rights.

The Iranian government did not immediately comment on the statement, but has previously criticized the work of UN investigators examining rights issues in the country.

Police released closed-circuit video footage last week allegedly showing the moment Amini collapsed. But her family says she had no heart history.

Amjad Amini, her father, told an Iranian news site that witnesses saw her being pushed into a police car.

“I asked for access to the (videos) of the cameras inside the car as well as in the courtyard of the police station, but they gave no response,” he said. He also accused the police of not moving her to hospital quickly enough, saying she could have been revived.

He said when he arrived at the hospital he was not allowed to see the body but managed to glimpse bruises on his foot.

Authorities then pressured him to bury her at night, apparently to reduce the risk of protests, but Amini said the family convinced them to let them bury her at 8 a.m.

Amini, who was Kurdish, was buried in her hometown of Saqez in western Iran on Saturday. Demonstrations erupted there after his funeral and police fired tear gas to disperse protesters on Saturday and Sunday. Several protesters were arrested.

Protests spread to Tehran and other cities on Monday. A news site affiliated with state television said 22 people were arrested during a protest in the northern town of Rasht, the first official confirmation of protest-related arrests.

State television broadcast images of the protests on Monday, including images of two police cars with their windows smashed. He said protesters also torched two motorcycles and burned Iranian flags in Kurdish areas and Tehran.

The public broadcaster blamed the unrest on foreign countries and opposition groups in exile, accusing them of using Amini’s d*ath as a pretext for more economic sanctions.

Iran has seen waves of protests in recent years, mainly due to a long economic crisis exacerbated by Western sanctions linked to the country’s nuclear program. The authorities succeeded in crushing the demonstrations by force.

(AP)

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