Ahmadinejad’s Court Summons Ignites Backlash

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Yesterday afternoon, Mehr News reported that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been summoned to branch 76 of the criminal court in Tehran. According to Mehr, the complaint was filed by parliament speaker Ali Larijani, the head of parliament’s Article 90 committee, and Yaghoub Khalil Nejad.

The relationship between Ahmadinejad and Larijani is perhaps the most acrimonious among the top positions of power in the Islamic Republic. In February, on the parliament floor, Ahmadinejad played an audio recording which reportedly implicated Larijani’s brother in financial corruption. Parliament immediately then voted to sack Ahmadinejad’s labor minister. Only with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s public warning did tensions subside.

Immediately after Mehr broke the story, the official website of the president shared a copy of the summons. While the Mehr story never revealed the details of the accusations against the president, it did say that he will have until Nov. 26 to respond in court. Ahmadinejad leaves office Aug. 4.

In an open session in parliament today, Fars News reported Larijani’s response to the news of the summons, which has received considerable coverage both in domestic and foreign media. “Some media presented this situation as if it were a complaint by the parliamentary speaker,” Larijani said. “We don’t have personal complaints. It’s possible that the Article 90 committee observed a violation and referred it to the judiciary.”

Parliament member Mehdi Koochakzadeh, who is a supporter of president Ahmadinejad, said to Larijani, “You met today with Mr. Rouhani and you stressed the readiness of parliament to work with the new administration. However, unfortunately, some media were up to mischief yesterday” in their reports about the summons.

According to the article, neither Koochakzadeh, who is a member of the Article 90 committee, nor the head of the committee were aware of the complaint. The head reportedly said, “Even if the news in the media is true, there is no reason it should have been revealed.”

Of the summons and the ushering in of a new era under the new president, Koochakzadeh said, “This shows an immaturity within the subset of the judiciary, which the head the judiciary should warn about, so that from the very beginning the atmosphere of agreement is not polluted.” Larijani’s brother, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, is the head of the judiciary.

Hossein Shariatmadari, the editor of Kayhan appointed by Khamenei, wrote a very harsh response to the judiciary in regard to the summons of Ahmadinejad.

“After this became the top news in the foreign media, many inside began to ask by who and with what motivation this action took place,” Shariatmadari wrote. “Were the judiciary officials aware of the issuing and notification of the summons to the president? If the answer is yes, what kind of urgent motivation and necessity was there that there was not a delay in this notification? And with the sensitive condition of the country, you were in a hurry to issue a statement? And with a court date in six months?”

Shariatmadari continued, “This has astonished our outside enemies.” He then praised the president and wrote that “The uninterrupted and abundant services in the many fields that this administration has provided is incomparable. To be fair, as thanks for all of Dr. Ahmadinejad’s efforts and services, he is summoned?”

“It could be said that the judiciary is not a body that should act in expediency,” Shariatmadari wrote. “But in this case, some questions must be asked. First, why is the summons for a court date in six months written today? Did the respectful gentlemen at the judiciary think that they would not have access to Mr. Ahmadinejad after his presidency? And if this was the case, they still had two months until the end of his presidency. And basically, can someone like Ahmadinejad even be at an unknown place after his presidency? Secondly, did the judiciary act with such speed and certainty in other similar cases? Is there only a sense of responsibility when it comes to confronting the president?”