The long awaited trial of Saeed Mortazavi will take place in Tehran Tuesday, according to chief of Tehran Criminal Court.
Mortazavi and two other others are expected to be charged with “unlawful arrest” and “assisting in the filing of a false report” for their role in three killings at Iran’s notorious Kahrizak prison.
The case and the charges are not without controversy. Some critics say he should have faced much more serious charges.
Saeed Mortazavi was prosecutor general of Tehran in 2009 when protests disputing the outcome of the 2009 elections took place. Many protesters were arrested and transferred to Kahrizak prison on orders of Assistant Prosecutor Ali Akbar Heydarifar, who also is to be charged Tuesday.
In July of 2009, three protesters — Amir Javadifar, Mohsen Ruholamini and Mohammad Kamrani – died, allegedly while being tortured at Kahrizak. After the deaths became public, the government suspended Mortazavi, Heydarifar, and Hassan Zareh Dehnavi, deputy head of security at Kahrizak who is most commonly known as Judge Haddad. Dehnavi is to be charged Tuesday as well.
Positions of power
Despite the allegations, President Mahmoud Ahmadienjad has kept Mortazavi in positions of power. After assigning him to head the Center for Combating Smuggling, the president named Mortazavi to lead Iran’s Social Security Fund, a decision that caused an uproar in parliament among Ahmadinejad’s political enemies.
Mohammad Davari, the editor of the website of Saham, the site that first published interviews and video depicting torture and sexual assault at Kahrizak, was released after three years of imprisonment. He was given a furlough last week after experiencing heart trouble. Saham is close to the 2009 presidential candidate and current opposition leader, Mehdi Karroubi, who has been under arrest without charge for two years.
Mohsen Eftekhari, head of Tehran’s criminal court, said that whether or not the court session would be open to the public will ultimately be up to the judge of the case.
Saeed Mortazavi has previously been accused of involvement in the killing of Iranian-Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi at Evin prison in 2003. As a judge, he oversaw the closure of dozens of newspapers, earning himself the nickname of “the butcher of the press.” Opponents also have called him “the torturer of Tehran.”
Mortazavi is currently at the center of bitter fight between the president and head of parliament, Ali Larijani, as well as the chief of the Judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, prompting some critics to speculate that the announcement of this case is more about politics than the Kahrizak prison killings.