IRGC Commander as Larijani’s Adviser: A Threat to Judiciary’s Independence
The appointment of a top IRGC commander with a security background to the position of Adviser to the Judiciary has created concern among human rights activists who believe such action would lead to radicalization of the Judiciary and distortion of its independence.
In an unprecedented act, Iran’s Head of Judiciary appointed Mohammad Bagher Zolghadr, one of the most senior IRGC commanders who has had a long record of repression of government critics, to the position of Adviser. ILNA News Agency reports that in his letter of appointment, Head of Judiciary Sadegh Larijani explains his reason for this appointment Mohammad Bagher Zolghadr’s “brilliant record and valuable experiences.”
During his career, Zolghadr has served as IRGC Deputy General Commander for Tehran Province, Deputy Minister of Information in charge of Security, and Deputy Commander of Armed Forces. He is one of the IRGC commanders who wrote a threatening letter to President Seyyed Mohammad Khatami in 1999. A radical supporter of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he said after his election “The election of Mr. Ahmadinejad as President was a result of a multi-layered and complex plan by his supporters.”
In addition to appointment of former Minister of Information Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejehi as Prosecutor General, Zolghadr’s presence as Judiciary Adviser will further intensify the new security-military influences within the Judiciary. Many analysts believe that the harsh sentences recently issued for political activists and journalists and the Judiciary Head’s tough rhetoric pertaining to punishment of “conspiracy heads” are actions influenced by Zolghadr’s presence at the Judiciary.