Body identified as that of kidnapped Iranian
-was shot twice in the head
Thursday, May 6th 2004
The decomposed body found on Tuesday was yesterday positively identified as that of kidnapped Iranian cleric Mohammed Hassan Ebrahimi leaving critical questions about the motive for the crime and the perpetrators unsolved.
The cleric was shot twice in the head execution style and appeared to have been killed long before investigators were dispatched here by the Iranian government.
The verification has ended one month of speculation about the fate of Ebrahimi, who was identified by a silver cap on one of his teeth and a finger ring which was not removed.
Ebrahimi, who was the Director of the International Islamic College of Advanced Studies on Brickdam, was kidnapped by gunmen in a highly professional attack after he was lured to the institution on April 2nd.
A motive was never established for his abduction and the mystery deepened because a ransom demand was never made.
Police spokesman John Sauers yesterday said police discovered Ebrahimi's body on Tuesday evening in a shallow grave four hundred yards off the St. Cuthbert's trail and about three and a half miles from the Linden-Soesdyke Highway.
According to Sauers, the partly decomposed body was positioned face down in the three feet deep grave. His mouth was covered with duct tape which was also used to bind his feet as well as his hands, which were behind his back. The body was also outfitted in the same clothes Ebrahimi was wearing when he was last seen alive.
There were two gunshot wounds to the head, which was decomposed to such an extent that the skull was clearly visible along with the entry and exit wounds of the bullets.
It is believed that one of the bullets entered the right side of his face and exited through the top of his skull, while the other
was fired at the left side and exited through one of his eyes.
"I will take the liberty to represent that that is the body of Hassan Ebrahimi," Abdul Kadir told reporters after he and a close family friend identified the body at the Le Repentir Mortuary yesterday morning.
Because of the advanced stage of decomposition his body was stored at the mortuary, where the identification was done.
Kadir confirmed the description of the body that was detailed by the police and based on what he had observed he estimated that it may have been buried for about two or three weeks, though he did admit his was a technically uninformed opinion. This opinion would also suggest that the cleric was alive for around a week following his kidnapping.
Kadir noted that police still have to determine a motive, though he said he imagines they did their best.
"The police's ability to solve crimes is dependent on the resources at their disposal and willingness to solve crimes... in the Guyana context, I would like to think that the police did their best," he said before he was joined by the uncle of Ebrahimi's pregnant wife, who is due to deliver any day now. Several appeals by relatives of the man were made in the local press for his release.
Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi recently voiced concern over the kidnapping and had called on officials here to work quickly to secure his release.
"We want the necessary action to be taken to release him as soon as possible and for the abductors to be prosecuted," the minister was quoted as saying by IRNA news agency. Following this statement, the Iranian Ambassador to Venezuela and several investigators travelled to Georgetown and had meetings with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Rudy Insanally and other officials.
Kadir said it is possible that Guyana could soon be revisited by Iranian police.
On the night of the kidnapping, Ebrahimi had been asked by an official of the college to return there because of a water leak. This appeared to be a ruse to get him to return to the facility as no water leak was ever found. In the professionally-executed kidnapping, the vehicle Ebrahimi was to travel in was disabled by gunfire and another official travelling with him was shot in the foot.
The police - including elements of a new anti-kidnapping unit - could find no trace of the cleric and the absence of a ransom demand has led to widespread speculation about the reasons for the abduction. Questions have also been raised over why Guyana was chosen for the site of the college.
During the police investigations, a local muslim school was controversially raided but no sign of the cleric was found.
Meanwhile, the interim head of the college Sheikh Salim Ibn Abdul Kadir would not pronounce on the future of the institution, which issue he says does not take precedence at this time