The crew members of an Iranian TV series have gone on a trial over the suicide of a teenager who was allegedly inspired by the plot, rejecting a role in the death of the young boy.
A criminal court said that the TV series staff had caused the death of the boy by failing to notify the viewers about unsuitable content for young children in the series.
Alireza Afkhami, who directed “Five Kilometers to Paradise” for the Iranian Channel 3, said Monday that the death of Mohammad Mahdi Kouhi in 2010 could have not been caused by the series.
In the TV series, a young man goes into a coma, following which his spirit tries to communicate with the people in their dreams.
The court summoned the director, producer and assistant producer of the TV series as well as the chief of the Channel 3 in August long after they had been exonerated in proceedings related to the death of the 13-year-old boy. The prosecutors charged the staff with "indirect causation of death," saying they should have aired the serial with a parental guide notice.
The indictment said the boy had imitated one of the main characters of the film and hanged himself at home when he was left with his 6-year-old sibling. It said the boy was seeking to turn into a ghost to go wherever he wanted, like the main character of the TV series.
Afkhami said he and the film crew members were deeply saddened by the death of Mohammad Mahdi, but said it was “completely wrong perception” that the boy was inspired by the TV series in his act of suicide.
He said the staff and higher officials who ordered the production had observed all legal requirements and that age discretion was not an issue.
Reports suggested that Davoud Hashemi, the producer of the film who was bailed out in August, also attended the hearing on Saturday. He has also denied the charges.
The indictment, which is the first in of its kind in Iran, has taken many by surprise, as TV channels are under the direct supervision of the government.
However, if convicted, Channel 3 officials and the film crew will be responsible for compensating the family of the teenage boy.