Iranian Authorities Partially Demolish Home of Minister’s Daughter

In what appeared to be a publicity stunt organized by the local authorities in the Lavasanat District, north of Tehran, municipal workers on March 3 partially demolished a house belonging to Shabnam Nematzadeh, a daughter of Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, who was Minister of Industry, Mining and Trade from 2013 to 2017. Footage released to the Iranian media by the Lavasanat judicial district shows workers knocking down the walls of a house in Shemiranat County.

Shabnam Nematzadeh, owner and managing director of Rasa Pharmed, and her mother Maryam Bakhtiar were the subject of a corruption investigation between 2012 and 2017. According to the Iranian media, Rasa had allegedly defaulted on $84 million in debts to the Farabi Pharmaceutical and Shafa Daru Investment Company. There were also some rumors that she had been arrested. Mrs. Nematzadeh denied the reports, calling them unfounded.

“We ordered the partial demolition of this residential home after discovering a building code violation,” Ezatollah Cheraghi, the deputy director of Lavasanat District office for urban development, said. “Our investigation showed that the total area of the four-story house exceeded the maximum footage listed in the building permit.”

Only a handful of reporters could enter the building, even though district officials had given advanced information about the demolition to all news outlets. According to reporters who walked through the house, workers had demolished only a few walls.

“The basement, the ground floor, and the first story violate the building code,” Mohammad Reza Mousapour, the district’s construction supervisor, told reporters. “Only sections of the house violated the building code. Therefore, workers must use traditional hand tools and not an excavator or a wrecking ball to demolish parts of the facade, the roof, and some of the interior walls.”

Mr. Mousapour added: “We need to consult structural engineers and builders to erecting support columns and reinforce those sections that workers do not have to knock down. The owner has to shoulder the cost.”

Mrs. Nematzadeh’s lawyer Maryam Farahani told reporters who had gathered outside the house: “My client is a law-abiding citizen. She believes that no one is above the law. The question is why this issue should attract so much media attention? She has complied with the ruling, and yet this ordinary case has been hyped so much. We are reluctant to let anyone enter the building including reporters for purely health and safety reasons.”

[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]