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Former Tehran mayor confesses live on television to killing his wife

Mohammed Ali al-Najafi's wife Mitra Ostad was found in dead in a bathtub on Tuesday after being shot through the heart
Former Tehran mayor Mohammed Ali al-Najafi with his second wife Mitra Ostad (Screengrab)

In the past 48 hours, a murder case involving a high-profile Iranian reformist and former mayor of Tehran allegedly killing his wife has captured the attention of the Iranian public.

Mohammed Ali al-Najafi, 67, reportedly fatally shot Mitra Ostad, 36, in the heart before surrendering to the police and confessing of his crime on national television.

Mitra was found dead in a bathtub on 28 May in her home in the upper-class neighbourhood of Saadat Abad in northwestern Tehran after Najafi reportedly shot her several times.

Hours afterwards, Najafi handed himself over to police, speaking to a journalist about the murder that same day.

According to website Fararu, Ostad leaves behind a 13-year-old son from a previous marriage. The woman, who held a degree in accounting, was Najafi's second wife.

Najafi is known for being a confidant of President Hassan Rouhani and has held several official posts. He is considered a member of Rouhani's reformist political faction. 

After serving seven months as the mayor of Tehran, Najafi resigned in March under pressure from hardliners after a video leaked in which he was seen attending a school show in which girls were dancing. Women dancing and singing in front of a mixed-gender public is deemed illegal in Iran.

Local Iranian media have reported that Najafi told the police his wife made “constant threats” to "ruin" his life by exposing his secrets.

Some Iranians have condemned the broadcasting of Najafi’s confession, in which he claimed his wife jumped on him as he held a gun only "to scare her", as well as general coverage of the case, arguing that it rationalised misogyny and violence against women.

The reporter who broadcast Najafi’s confession held the alleged crime weapon on camera and emptied its bullets, saying "only" five shots were fired from the magazine.

In a different scene in the report, a security official was seen treating Najafi courteously, serving him tea and cookies.