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Tehran’s vice-fighting police chief arrested

/ Source: The Associated Press

Tehran's police chief, who was in charge of fighting vice, has been arrested, a spokesman for Iran's judiciary said Tuesday.

The spokesman, Ali Reza Jamshidi, said his case was under investigation. He refused to elaborate further about the case, which has caught wide public attention in Iran.

Local media have reported that the police chief, Gen. Reza Zarei, was taken to jail after he was caught last month with six nude women by a police raid on an underground local brothel. Local Web sites have also extensively reported the case in recent weeks.

Officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media, have also confirmed the reported arrest circumstances.

Prostitution is illegal in Iran, and even talking about sex is frowned upon by hard-line clerics ruling the country.

Zarei was in charge of a program to clean cities from corruption and in recent months had reported arrests of young men and women for illicit relationships or not respecting the Islamic dress code.

State media in recent weeks reported Zarei's replacement but made no mention of his arrest or the reasons that led to his detention since such issues are considered a taboo in Iran.

Iran's strict Islamic rules allow little socializing between the sexes, and young Iranians have been jailed and flogged for dancing together at birthday parties.

For years, the hard-line clergy that has ruled Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution painted a rosy picture of the Iranian society, never admitting to vices such as prostitution, which under Iranian law could be punishable by death.

But in the past decade, authorities have acknowledged that prostitution was a fact and is even spreading in Iran. Prostitutes are becoming more and more visible on the streets, mainly due to economic hardships.