Shirin Ebadi: Iran’s Judiciary Is a Subsidiary of the Intelligence Ministry
Following the arrest of Saeed Mortazavi, Tehran’s former press court judge and prosecutor, Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, “The timing and the manner of arrest of Saeed Mortazavi, a suspect in the Kahrizak Detention Center case and the Zahra Kazemi murder case, once again showed that the Judiciary has lost its independence and is not capable of carrying out justice.”
Mortazavi, currently the acting head of Iran’s Social Security Organization, was arrested Tuesday and detained for 24 hours following a public exposé by President Ahmadinejad during an impeachment session at the Iranian Parliament. “When more important and heavier charges were directed at Mr. Mortazavi, the safety provided for him did not make it possible to bring him to justice, but some time later when political issues caused the two insider groups to confront each other, because Mortazavi was being supported by the group that was confronting the Judiciary, the time for his arrest came about,” said Ebadi adding that, “Once again lack of independence by the Judiciary and its consistent subordination to the intelligence agents has been proven.”
Asked whether investigations into the case of Kahrizak murders, in which Saeed Mortazavi had a serious presence, could follow his recent arrest, Ebadi said, “It depends on the political will of those in power. In other words, Mortazavi’s arrest has not been for justice, but to settle political scores; because if it were for justice, Mr. Mortazavi would have been in prison several years ago.”
“Mr. Mortazavi’s most important, almost-proven charge is his interference in the case of Zahra Kazemi, in which according to a report prepared and published by the Sixth Iranian Parliament [2000-2004], he misused his office to prevent proper investigation into this case, a case in which he was a suspect himself. Another issue is his role in the case of the Kahrizak Detention Center and the torture and murders that took place there. Regrettably, these charges were never reviewed and at the time, security forces wouldn’t allow the Judiciary to do its job, and now that it is time to settle political scores, not only is no reference made to Mortazavi’s prior charges, according to the Fars News Agency’s report he was arrested for misappropriation of state assets. When all this information is put together, a logical answer comes out and that is that the Judiciary has lost its independence and is no longer able to carry out justice,” said Ebadi, who is also a co-founder of the Defenders of Human Rights Center.
“Our evaluation of Mortazavi’s arrest is that because the Judiciary has lost its independence, and as he was never arrested, prosecuted, and investigated when the case of Zahra Kazemi and the other charges against him were in the forefront, they are now after him to settle political scores. Our expectation of the judicial system is its independence and implementation of justice, which I must say, under the current circumstances, I am hopeless about. I expressly declare to the people of Iran that there is no [independent] Judiciary in Iran; the Judiciary is a subsidiary of the Intelligence Ministry,” said Ebadi regarding how she and other human rights activists view these developments.