Iran: Mahsa Amini was 'insulted and tortured' before her death, cousin tells UK media
Speaking to the British broadcaster Sky News on Monday from Sulaymaniyah in Iraqi Kurdistan, Erfan Mortezaei revealed that a witnesses informed their family of Mahsa’s ordeal, which occurred in a van on the way to the police station, following her arrest.
In the exclusive interview, Mortezaei said that Amini began to "lose her vision and felt faint" after arriving at the station following the abuse she was subjected to.
He also stated that it took ambulance workers "half an hour to reach her" and "one and half hours before she was admitted to hospital".
The cousin is the first member of her family to conduct an interview with Western media since the 22-year-old’s death on 16 September, which has sparked nationwide demonstrations.
According to Mortezaei, Amini suffered a blow to her head and was dead "from a medical point of view" when she arrived at Kasra hospital in Tehran.
The Morality Police, who remain accused of beating her, maintain that she died from "natural causes".
Mortezaei, who is a political activist and a Peshmerga fighter living in Iraq close to the border with Iran, also said that authorities have pressured his family into speaking on Iranian TV, in a bid to prohibit Amini’s parents and brother from speaking out.
In the interview with Sky News’ Middle East correspondent Alistair Bunkall, Mortezaei also debunked claims by Tehran that Amini was involved in politics.
Amini, whose Kurdish name can be spelt as Jina or Zhina, was shopping in Tehran with her family members, including her brother, when she was stopped by the Morality Police for allegedly wearing her hijab "incorrectly".
Mortezaei said that police pepper-sprayed her brother, Ashkan, during the incident before Mahsa was taken to the police station in order to be "educated" on so-called morality laws.
He also dubbed his cousin "the voice of the anger of the Iranian people", and he and his family have called on the international community to hold the Iranian government accountable for Amini’s death.
Mahsa Amini’s death has prompted anger and outcry in Iran, prompting large-scale protests in almost all the provinces of Iran, as well as major cities in other parts of the world.
At least 41 people are reported to have been killed during the mass demonstrations, according to a Reuters count, but the death toll is believed to be higher, amid a violent crackdown by authorities.