Iran Judge Behind Three Deaths Fined $60

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Saeed Mortazavi, the judge long accused in the deaths of three individuals involved in the 2009 post-election protests, has been sentenced.

Mortazavi, who was prosecutor-general of Tehran in 2009, was charged along with two other deputies in February with “filing a false report” and “unlawful arrest” in connection to the transfer of street protesters to Kahrizak prison.

According to various reports, Mortazavi and two others were suspended for life from judicial duties and banned for five years from government work. Mortazavi received a 200,000 toman fine ($60 based on today’s open market rate). His lawyer said that they will appeal the verdict. The light sentence has shocked many Iranians on social media.

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Infamous Tehran Prosecutor and Ahmadinejad Ally Arrested

Former Prosecutor of the Islamic Revolutionary Court, Saeed Mortazavi, has been arrested as he left work Fars News reports. Since his arrest Mortazavi was transferred to Evin jail.

Fars News then appeared to have removed the article first posted announcing Mortazvi’s arrest only to repost the news later with additional details.

The news of Mortazavi’s arrest was also posted on the website of the Tehran Prosecutor’s office, so there is little doubt as to its credibility.

The reason for Mortazavi’s arrest had still not been announced at the time when Fars posted the story, but the news agency close to the Revolutionary Guards speculated that the open case over the deaths of 3 young men in Kahrizak detention centre in 2009 during his tenure as Tehran Prosecutor is perhaps the reason for the arrest, but Shahr news agency has quoted a former member of the Supreme Court, alleging the reason for Mortazavi’s arrest was the secret recording of his conversation with Fazel Larijani, brother to the Majles Speaker allegedly implicating the latter in financial corruption. The inaudible tape was played by Ahmadinejad in the course of the parliamentary session, which if accurate is very damning (a transcript of the secretly recorded conversation has been published in the Reformist daily Bahar here), which in turn led to a forceful rebuke by the Majles Speaker, Ali Larijani, and his telling the president that he longer is permitted to speak due to his violation of Majles protocol.

The video below is of Larijani’s effective dismissal of Ahmadinejad and his telling him to leave the Majles floor.

The timing of Mortazavi’s arrest is indeed fortuitous given that it has occurred a day after a fiery exchange of words and threats by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Majles Speaker, Ali Larijani. It seems Mortazavi’s arrest is more likely the result of political infighting rather than any specific charge.

In particular, and as indicated by the comments and official complaint made by Fazel Larijani, it seems Mortazavi’s arrest might well be connected to the implicit threat of further revelations vis-à-vis the Larijani family. Sadeq Larijani, another brother of the Majles Speaker, currently heads the judiciary undoubtedly was at the forefront in issuing Mortazavi’s arrest warrant.

Mortazavi became infamous in the era of President Mohammad Khatami for playing a leading role as a district judge in the closure of a slew of prominent Reformist newspapers, and was allegedly involved in the death of Canadian Iranian journalist Zahra Kazemi.

Mortazavi was also found culpable by a parliamentary inquiry for 3 deaths in 2009 which had occurred in Kahrizak detention centre while he was Tehran’s prosecutor.

Ahmadinejad had been in conflict with a significant constituency of the Majles, who had repeatedly objected to the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare’s appointment of Mortazavi as caretaker to the powerful Social Security Organization. Eventually the Minister of Labour, Abdolreza Sheikholeslami, was impeached over the refusal to fire Mortazavi.

In other news

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in an interview with the Arabic language news channel Al Mayadin, has said regarding this year’s approaching presidential election, “The nation of Iran are more knowledgeable than for me to want to introduce someone for them as a candidate [in the election]”.

Many Iran watchers and commentators are still waiting to see whether the Ahmadinejad government will put forward or explicitly back a candidate for Iran’s June presidential election.

Ahmadinejad supporter, Abdolreza Davari, and a member of the scientific committee for jihad in the university, has told  Arya news agency that President Ahmadinejad “has revealed only one card of thousands”.

He added, “the president’s words in the Majles had two points. The first was the president’s determination of the pathology of the country’s legal frameworks. Mr. Ahmadinejad’s arguments showed the processes of legislation have gone in a direction whereby normal laws have come to take precedence over the constitution”.

Mohammad Javad Larijani, brother to Majles Speaker, Ali Larijani, has attempted to downplay Sunday’s controversial entanglement between Ali Larijani and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over the impeachment of the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare and much else besides.

Mohammad Javad Larijani, who is the head of the human rights council of Iran’s Judiciary claimed that the heated exchanges between the Majles Speaker and the President were “a sign of the exuberance of the political system of the country”.

 

 

Basij Commander: Syrian Free Army Is “Psychological Operations”

Deputy for Basij Affairs and Defensive Culture, Commander Masoud Jazayeri, has commented on foreign forces in Syria. According to the Reformist daily Etemaad, stating that “with the existence of the terrorist actions of the enemies of Syria, the conditions in this country are contrary to what is put forward in the media. It is not only not grave, but normal life in the majority of areas of Syria carries on. The government and people in this time of crisis…The reactionaries of the region and the Zionists, capitalizing on political diplomacy and media diplomacy pretend that Bashar al-Assad’s government is over and the different groups and the Free Army [i.e. Free Syria Army] will soon be ruling, when it must be said explicitly that in fact something by the name of the Free Army does not exist in the way that the enemies state; this army is more the creation of psychological operations”. Jazayeri added, “in case Europe imagines that by supporting some groups and terrorist organizations it will be able to obtain its political objectives, it has inflicted a great blow to itself because without doubt this cultivated and engendered terrorism, one day will bring a calamity about for Europe and America”.

In other news

In reaction to the alleged opening of an official Facebook account in the name of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on the 13th of December, Mehdi Akhavan Behabadi, the Secretary of the Supreme Council for Cyberspace in Iran, has said that membership in Facebook is not a “crime”, but rather “circumventing the filtering system for access to these networks is considered a crime”. However, Akhavan Behabadi insists that he has not seen a statement from the office of the Supreme Leader confirming that the account belongs to the latter, nor has the government taken any decision to stop filtering Facebook.

Hojjat al-Islam Mehdi Mousavi Nejad, the MP for Bushehr has criticized the “negative influence” of Russian women employees at the Bushehr nuclear power plant and has stated that a report will be given to the Majles’ Cultural Commission in this regard. Mousavi Nejad claimed that Russian employees receive a fee for abiding by the Islamic dress code, but that the “principles and standards” [of the latter] were not being properly complied with. Mousavi Nejad even went as far as to call the Russian female employees of Bushehr “corrupting”.

Since Mousavi Nejad’s statement, Deputy Foreign Minister, Hassan Ghashghavi, has rejected the claim that Russian female employees receive a fee for donning the hejab and said it has “absolutely no truth”.

The failure to change the charter of the Social Security Fund and transform it formally into an “organization”, under government purview, as opposed to a body, under the supervision of the Majles, has placed the controversial former judge and Tehran prosecutor, Saeed Mortazavi, in the firing line once again. After the Majles Speaker announced the failure of the government’s plans eight MPs immediately pointed out to the Minister of Labour, that they want the removal of Mortazavi from his current post.

Maverick Principalist MP, Ali Motahhari, has called Mortazavi’s appointment “criminal” if it continues and said that he will decide to pursue the Minister’s impeachment if he does not appoint someone else in Mortazavi’s stead. Motahhari added, “we aren’t bothered with whether the Minister is insignificant and in reality is [acting] under the order of Mr. Ahmadinejad. We say that the removal of Mortazavi is the obligation of the Minister and if he doesn’t have the power for such an act, he must be dismissed”.

Motahhari stated that as a “suspended judge” Mortazavi cannot be legally appointed to a governmental post, and this is not even addressing the numerous allegations which have been made against him following the post-2009 unrest, when he was held responsible for the death of several young Iranians held in Kahrizak detention centre, while Tehran’s Chief Prosecutor.

 

Former “Kahrizak prosecutors” return to the headlines

On the home front

Ali Akbar Heydari Far, the former deputy to the Tehran’s former chief prosecutor, Saeed Mortazavi, has lodged a complaint against the news site Baztab after being released from jail. Heydari Far’s name was revealed as amongst those responsible for allegations of torture and 3 deaths which occurred in Kahrizak detention centre after Iran’s controversial 2009 election and the unrest which followed. He was suspended as deputy prosecutor of Tehran as a result.

But in May of this year, Heydari Far was arrested after discharging a firearm at a gas station in Isfahan, when other customers protested his jumping line. Heydari Far was arrested on charges of “disrupting public order and security”, but has since been released. According to Baztab, Heydari Far’s complaint concerns his protesting the leak of his release from prison.

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