A hardline cleric once thought to be a possible successor to Iran’s supreme leader has been appointed head of the Islamic Republic’s judiciary, sparking concern from rights activists over his involvement in the execution of thousands of people in the 1980s.
Ebrahim Raisi was named to the post in a decree by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.
Raisi’s selection comes after he was trounced by incumbent Hassan Rouhani in the country’s 2017 presidential election. Some analysts suggest that that loss and other concerns means the move takes him out of the running to become the next supreme leader to replace Khamenei, who turns 80 in July.
Speculation that Raisi could be named to the post also had sparked criticism from the US, which under Donald Trump has withdrawn from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
Raisi, “involved in mass executions of political prisoners, was chosen to lead #Iran’s judiciary. What a disgrace!” Robert Palladino, a deputy State Department spokesman, tweeted. “The regime makes a mockery of the legal process by allowing unfair trials and inhumane prison conditions. Iranians deserve better!”
Rumors began months ago that Khamenei would appoint Raisi, 58. He will replace Sadegh Amoli Larijani, a conservative cleric who is the brother of Iran’s parliamentary speaker, Ali Larijani. Khamenei had appointed Larijani as the head of the country’s Expediency Council, which mediates differences between the country’s parliament and its guardian council, Iran’s constitutional watchdog.
Khamenei has praised Raisi, a former Iranian attorney general, in the past.
In 2016, Khamenei appointed Raisi to run the Imam Reza charity foundation, which manages a vast conglomerate of businesses and endowments in Iran. It is one of many bonyads, or charitable foundations, fuelled by donations or assets seized after Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Read more: The Guardian
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