[QODLink]
Middle East

Iran arrests former Tehran prosecutor

Key presidential ally's arrest "possibly" in connection with allegations of torture, Fars news agency reports.
Last Modified: 05 Feb 2013 10:32
Mortazavi was dismissed from his judicial post over deaths of three protesters in custody after 2009 elections [AFP]

A former Iranian prosecutor at the centre of a growing confrontation between two of Iran's most powerful figures has been arrested, according to the Tehran prosecutor's website.

Saeed Mortazavi, considered a close aide of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was taken to Tehran's Evin prison, the semi-official Fars agency reported on Tuesday.

"[Mortazavi] is at the crux of a political fiasco that has brought all the regime's dark secrets to the surface"

-  Yasmin Alem, Analyst

Fars reported that Mortazavi was arrested on Monday.

No reason was given for the arrest in the statement released on Tuesday, but the timing suggested it might be linked to Mortazavi's role as a former judicial official, in a dispute between Ahmadinejad and Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani.

Mortazavi was dismissed from his judicial post after the controversial 2009 presidential elections, which the opposition claimed was rigged in Ahmadinejad's favour.

Fars reported that Mortazavi's arrest was "possibly" in connection with allegations of torture and the death of three protesters.

Al Jazeera’s Soraya Lennie, reporting from Tehran, said the "timing of his arrest can be called into question".

'Butcher of the press'

The spokesperson for Iran's judiciary, Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei, said in January that Iran's court would address the cases in March.

In a speech meant to defend one of his ministers against impeachment, Ahmadinejad played a tape he said showed a meeting between Ali Larijani's brother Fazel and Mortazavi in which Fazel Larijani attempted to use his family's prominent political status for financial gain.

Both Fazel and Ali Larijani denied the accusation of corruption, and Fazel Larijani said he would file a legal complaint against Ahmadinejad and Mortazavi.

The opposition claimed the controversial 2009 presidential elections were rigged in Ahmadinejad's favour [EPA]

The head of Iran's judiciary is Sadeq Larijani - Fazel and Ali's brother.

Labour Minister Abdolreza Sheikholeslami, who was dismissed by parliament on Sunday, appointed Mortazavi last year to head the social security office.

Dubbed by some as "the butcher of the press," Mortazavi had a central role in shutting down reformist newspapers and arresting dozens of journalists.

Human Rights Watch has previously described Mortazavi as a "serial human rights abuser" whose "unsavoury history goes back many years".

"Over the last decade, his [Mortazavi's] name has been closely linked to most, if not all, of Iran's human rights related imbroglios," said Yasmin Alem, a US-based expert on Iran's electoral system.

"Now, he is at the crux of a political fiasco that has brought all the regime's dark secrets to the surface."

456

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
A vocal minority in Ukraine's east wants to join Russia, and Kiev has so far been unable to put down the separatists.
Iran's government has shifted its take on 'brain drain' but is the change enough to reverse the flow?
Deadly attacks on anti-mining activists in the Philippines part of a global trend, according to new report.
Activists say 'Honor Diaries' documentary exploits gender-based violence to further an anti-Islamic agenda.
As Syria's civil war escalates along the Turkish border, many in Turkey are questioning the country's involvement.
join our mailing list