Abdol-Karim Lahidji: Mortazavi Deserves Arrest for Prior Brutality
Former Tehran Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi should be prosecuted for his role in prisoners’ deaths, not political score-settling, prominent lawyer Abdol-Karim Lahidji told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. 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.
At a session of the Iranian Parliament on Sunday, February 3, Ahmadinejad screened footage from a hidden camera that had recorded a meeting between Mortazavi and Fazel Larijani, the younger brother of Speaker of the Parliament Ali Larijani and Head of the Iranian Judiciary Sadeq Larijani in which Fazel Larijani asks Mortazavi for financial favors in return for favorable influence on his two powerful brothers. Lahidji told the Campaign that he sees Mortazavi’s arrest as a political move and considers the Iranian Judiciary to be a tool in the hands of the regime’s political goals. According to Lahidji, Mortazavi should have been prosecuted much earlier than this for his role in Zahra Kazemi’s death inside Evin Prison, as well as his role in the Kahrizak Detention Center murders following the 2009 post-election unrest. Mortazavi was released Wednesday morning without charges.
Lahidji, who is Vice President of the International Federation of Human Rights, told the Campaign that the reason for Mortazavi’s arrest was apparently his recording and releasing the video to Ahmadinejad. “I don’t know the reason for Mortazavi’s arrest, but his misdeeds are numerous and related to the 10 to 15 years during which he served as the Head of the Press Court and the Tehran Prosecutor. He was specifically involved in the murder case of Zahra Kazemi and the Kahrizak case. As you know, in the Kahrizak case he and other judges were suspended and lost their judicial positions, but none of them was ever prosecuted, only that there is going to be trial about the case in March. Therefore, in my opinion, the reason why he was arrested immediately after the confrontation between Ahmadinejad and Larijani [at the Parliament] was that he recorded Larijani’s brother’s voice and published it. It appears that [Mortazavi] no longer has a judicial position, but in his administrative position he had a private meeting with someone and proceeded to record his voice without his permission. Now, it must first be clarified whether recording someone’s voice is a crime in the laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and if it is a criminal act he will have to respond to his charges. But if his arrest was not because of the tape recording [but rather] in relation to his prior charges, the families [of the victims] and the MPs who had repeatedly requested his prosecution in the past should apply pressure for this to lead to, for example, a determination of his penal responsibility in the Kahrizak case,” he told the Campaign.
“In my opinion, the Islamic Republic’s Judiciary is a tool used for pressuring, threatening, and intimidating the people towards the regime’s political goals. The Iranian Judiciary has imposed the Revolutionary Courts on the people, and uses them as a weapon for suppressing the people and removing political dissidents. So far, circumstances have been on the side of the Larijani brothers, with one of them as the Head of the Judiciary and the other the Speaker of the Parliament. Now, when it comes to Mortazavi’s arrest, I view this action as a political settlement of a score, but they should provide judicial and legal premises for this action. It is possible that over the next few days, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei [the current Prosecutor General and former Head of the Ministry of Intelligence during the 2009 presidential election], himself a big suspect with a terrible report card at least for the past couple of decades, may come and justify this…. He may say that Mortazavi was arrested for a new charge, recording his private discussions with [Fazel] Larijani and passing that on to the President…. But it is certain that we are facing the political infighting of two factions inside the regime. So far, no reasons for Mortazavi’s arrest have been announced,” Lahidji told the Campaign.
Abdol-Karim Lahidji told the Campaign that Mortazavi has in the past recorded other individuals’ voices without their permission, and used the tapes against them. “When Mortazavi was the Tehran Prosecutor and the Revolutionary Court Prosecutor, he used to do this, I mean recording the voices of many people without their knowledge. At the time of Zahra Kazemi’s murder, he was not only the Tehran Prosecutor and the individual who had ordered her arrest and interrogation, he had personally done her interrogations, interrogations that were accompanied by violence, interrogations that took place at 2 a.m. When Ms. Kazemi passed out, he obstructed her transfer to the hospital and her initial treatment. After her death, during those first days, he met with representatives from the Intelligence Ministry, and a man by the name of [Mohammad Hossein] Khoshvaght [former Director of Foreign Press at the Culture Ministry]…and he taped all this man’s statements without his knowledge. At the time he was the Prosecutor, and maybe he could legally record calls, but when he was talking with Larijani’s brother, he did not even have a judicial position anymore and he only had an administrative position. This means that he deceived this man, recorded his voice, and gave the tape to Ahmadinejad,” Lahidji told the Campaign.
Referring to the Supreme Leader’s usual support for Saeed Mortazavi, Lahidji told the Campaign, “Everyone knows that one of the reason for his impunity has been Khamenei’s constant support. In his worst days, when we saw Mortazavi showing up to Khamenei’s sermons, it meant that he had a rock behind him and nobody could touch him. Later, when he was suspended from his judicial position, against the opinion of the Administrative Justice Court, he was given multiple positions inside the Ahmadinejad cabinet. But with what has happened now, it is possible that the Supreme Leader may have decided that this time Mortazavi and Ahmadinejad have gone too far and he may have authorized his punishment.”