Pirouz Davani, the editor of the newspaper Pirouz, went missing aged 36 on 25 August 1998. He had been a member of Toudeh (a pro-Soviet communist party) in the 1980s and, as such, was detained for seven months in 1982. He was also jailed for eight months in 1989 for publishing articles containing interviews with the families of executed prisoners.
His disappearance came at a dark time in Iran’s recent history when many intellectuals and government opponents were murdered. Known as the “Serial Murders,” they prompted a public outcry and coverage by some of the pro-reform print media, forcing the authorities to create a commission of enquiry. The Davani case was not one of those investigated by the commission although several people spoke out, insisting that he had been murdered, and the daily Kar-e-Karagar reported rumours that he had been “executed.”
When Akbar Ganji, a Sobh-é-Emrouz journalist who had covered the case, was being tried in November 2000, he accused special clerical prosecutor Golamhossien Mohsseni Ejehi of involvement in Davani’s murder. A mullah close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Ejehi is a former intelligence minister and prosecutor-general who currently holds the posts of deputy justice minister and spokesman for judicial affairs.
In view of the manifest lack of interest on the part of the Iranian authorities in pursuing the investigation, the Davani family filed a complaint with the UN Human Rights Committee in December 2002. Reporters Without Borders meanwhile repeatedly urged the Iranian authorities to conduct an investigation in order to shed light on the case and to allow the Davani family to finally know what happened to him. But the authorities have never shown any desire to do this. President Hassan Rouhani did not reply to the letter that Reporters Without Borders sent him on 2 November 2014. On 28 August, two days before International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, Reporters Without Borders referred the case to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.