Iran appoints hardline clerics as chief judge amid calls to investigate past abuses



The Iranian secret service minister Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei attends the international conference of prosecutors of Islamic countries in Tehran April 21, 2009. REUTERS / Raheb Homavandi / File Photo

DUBAI, July 1 (Reuters) – Iran’s supreme leader promoted a hard-line cleric to chief justice on Thursday amid international calls to investigate allegations of abuse.

Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, now deputy head of the judiciary, will replace Ebrahim Raisi, who will take office as president in August after the election victory on June 18.

Ejei was blacklisted US and EU sanctions for his role in cracking down on a popular uprising a decade ago while serving as secret service secretary during a controversial election.

Choosing such a high-profile hardliner could draw further attention to allegations of past human rights violations by Iran at a time when the new US administration is trying to negotiate a thaw with Tehran.

This week, a UN expert called for a new investigation into Raisi’s alleged role in the deaths of thousands of political prisoners while serving as a judge in the 1980s. Raisi denies wrongdoing.

In a statement reported by state media, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Ejei to “promote justice, restore public rights, ensure legitimate freedoms and monitor the proper implementation of laws, prevent crime and fight corruption resolutely.”

Rights groups have criticized Raisi’s election in a vote that banned prominent rivals from running.

In a statement, Khamenei called on Ejei to “promote justice, restore public rights, guarantee legitimate freedoms and monitor the proper implementation of laws, prevent crime and resolutely fight corruption,” the state news agency IRNA reported.

The UN human rights investigator in Iran Javaid Rehman told Reuters this week there should be an independent investigation into allegations of the state-ordered execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988 and Raisi’s role as assistant prosecutor in Tehran at the time . Continue reading

“As I have described in my reports, there is widespread and systemic impunity in the country for serious human rights violations, both historically and today,” he said. “There are very few, if any, real opportunities for accountability in line with international standards within national channels.”

Iran has repeatedly dismissed criticism of its human rights record as unfounded and as a result of a lack of understanding of its Islamic laws. His legal system is independent and not influenced by political interests.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said last month that Raisi’s election was a blow to human rights and called for an investigation into his role in the 1988 executions

(This story corrects day to Thursday in the first paragraph.)

Reporting by Dubai Newsroom, Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva, Robin Emmot in Brussels and Arshad Mohammed in Washington; Editing by William Maclean and Howard Goller

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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