August 15, 2019
The head of the intelligence and security department of the Islamic Republic’s Judiciary says a “cleansing” procedure is underway in the country’s judicial system, traditionally dominated by conservatives.
“Under the Supreme Leader’s (Ali Khamenei) directive, we have started cleaning up the judiciary, while cleansing operations outside continue,” disclosed Ali Abdollahi, on August 15.
Reports leaked in recent weeks refer to widespread corruption in the judiciary under its previous head Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani.
Ayatollah Khamenei re-assigned the Najaf-born Amoli Larijani to the chairmanship of the influential and powerful Expediency Discernment Council (EDC) on December 30, 2018. He had earlier served as the Chief-Justice, or the head of Iran’s Judiciary for almost a decade (August 2009-March 2019).
However, it was disclosed in July that one of Amoli Larijani’s long-time aides was arrested and placed behind bars.
After days of widespread rumors and speculation, the spokesman of the judiciary confirmed that security forces had indeed detained Akbar Tabari the former deputy of the Chief-Justice.
Speaking at a press conference on July 16, Gholam Hossein Esmaili said Tabari was arrested for “exerting influence on some legal cases” and “having unlawful and unethical relationships” related to several lawsuits, the state-run Iran Students News Agency (ISNA)reported.
Esmaili also said that intelligence agents had arrested some individuals related to the case against Akbar Tabari.
Iran’s Judiciary is under the direct control of Supreme Leader Khamenei who appoints its head.
Widely known as “the judiciary’s strongman in the shadows,” Akbar Tabari, was the director of finance and then deputy head of the judiciary for administrative affairs for more than two decades.
In an unprecedented move, Amoli Larijani’s successor, mid-ranking cleric Ebrahim Raeesi, almost immediately in January dismissed Tabari from his influential position. After more than six months, Tabari was detained and charged with corruption.
Allegations of deep-seethed corruption in the Judiciary were frequent during Amoli Larijani’s tenure, but the Khamenei refused to intervene. Dissidents were furious in recent years, as the conservative institution, stacked with clergymen, restricted social freedoms and harshly prosecuted regime critics, while the population in large was angry at the corruption of judges.
Rumors on social media in recent weeks began referring to Tabari’s financial corruption and were soon followed by an “unseen and highly controversial letter” allegedly signed by Amoli Larijani.
In the letter attributed to Amoli Larijani, he had allegedly asked Khamenei, to either pardon one of his former aides or let him emigrate to the city of Najaf, in Iraq.
Najaf, where Amoli Larijani was born, is one of the most, if not the most, important centers of Shi’ite seminaries in the world.
The rumors about Amoli’s letter were so rife that the public relations department of the Expediency Discerning Council (EDC) stepped forward and officially denied the existence of the controversial correspondence.
Immediately after the judiciary’s denial, a veteran conservative politician and former member of Majles (the country’s parliament), Alireza Zakani, insisted that Amoli Larijani should openly dismiss his involvement in Tabari’s unlawful activities.
Amoli Larijani has so far preferred to ignore Zakani’s call.
In the meantime, rumors about Amoli Larijani’s relationship with the detained Tabari, and his alleged letter to the Supreme Leader asking him to either pardon his former deputy or let him emigrate to Najaf, have not yet died down.