Tehran’s Former Persecutor 'Disappears' Before Serving Sentence for Murder

Tehran’s Former Persecutor 'Disappears' Before Serving Sentence for Murder

Monday, 16 April, 2018 - 08:00
Tehran Prosecutor General Saeed Mortazavi during a news conference in Tehran April 19, 2009. (File Photo: Reuters)
London- Adil al Salmi
Hours after Iranian media confirmed the disappearance of former Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi who was involved in the killing of protesters during the Green Movement's protests in 2009, activists mounted posters in different parts of Tehran demanding information about his whereabouts as well promoting “Where is Mortazavi?” on Iranian social networks.

This came about five months after an arrest warrant was issued against Mortazavi following his two-year sentence after being convicted of participating in the killing of Mohsen Amini, one of the detainees in Kahrizak prison, southeast of Tehran.

During his trial, Mortazavi faced three counts, and in October 2014, he was cleared of the accomplice murder charge and was sentenced to permanent dismissal from all judicial positions and five years dismissal of government positions for "unlawful detention".

In April 2015, the Iranian court reopened Mortazavi's case on charges of preparing false reports and colluding in the killing of Mohsen Rouholamini, son of Abdolhossein Rouholamini adviser of former Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) chief Mohsen Rezaee

On Thursday, Khorasan newspaper quoted Iranian Judiciary’s Spokesperson Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei as saying that a court verdict calls for imprisoning Mortazavi for two years, but unfortunately Judiciary authorities were not able to arrest him as his whereabouts were unknown.

The court initially convicted Mortazavi of five years in prison after he claimed responsibility for signing the decision to transfer the prisoners to "Kahrizak".

Eight years ago, the then-prosecutor in Tehran Mortazavi, issued orders to arrest people protesting the results of the presidential elections and torture detainees in Kahrizak, resulting in the death of four young protesters, out of the 145 detainees transferred to prison at the early hours of the protests.

The transfer of prisoners to Kahrizak provoked wide controversy, forcing the Iranian authorities to close the prison before the demonstrators were declared dead.

In September 2016, Iranian media published a letter from Mortazavi apologizing to the families of the victims, expressing remorse. He said the prison events were "unintentional."

Tasnim quoted Mostafa Turk Hamadani, Mortazavi's lawyer, as saying that over the past five to six months, he has not been aware of anything about his client. In similar statements, Hamdani told Elena that nine of Mortazavi's security guards knew nothing about him or his whereabouts.

President Hasan Rouhani’s adviser on cultural affairs, Hesamodin Ashna said that Mortazavi had fled the country in order to evade justice repeating the scenario of chairman of Bank Melli Iran, Mahmoud Khavari who escaped the country after he was accused of embezzlement.

Ashna said in a tweet: “Mortazavi carries many secrets with him,” adding that with his disappearance, “the history of a decade of judiciary’s secrets might vanish.”

For its part, Javan daily, a newspaper affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), responded to Rouhani's tweet, saying that there is no doubt Mortazavi must be held responsible, and “we must be careful that he doesn’t evade his responsibilities, but what does the adviser aim behind raising doubts and speculations?”

The newspaper added that if anyone wanted to help Mortazavi escape, it will be the government of Ashena, which controls the airports.

Mortazavi’s disappearance was discussed in parliament, with reformist MP of Tehran Mostafa Kavakebian, protested against the judiciary because of the delay in Mortazavi's arrest.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Sunday Mortazavi’s conviction dates to Iran’s 2009 contested presidential elections, which led to waves of protests and the arrest of some 4,000 demonstrators. He was sentenced to two years in prison for complicity in the death of one person arrested during Iran’s 2009 anti-government protests, however, he has vanished before he could even be arrested.

“Considering Iran’s abysmal record prosecuting human rights abusers, it would not be surprising that certain authorities want to shield Mortazavi from facing justice,” indicated HRW.

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