Iran ex-prosecutor sentenced to 135 lashes for corruption

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(BBC) An Iranian court has sentenced Tehran’s controversial former chief prosecutor to 135 lashes for corruption, local media report.

Saeed Mortazavi was a close ally of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Saeed Mortazavi was a close ally of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (AFP photo)

Saeed Mortazavi was convicted of misappropriation and wasting public goods.

The offences are said to have taken place while he was in charge of Iran’s social welfare system in 2012 and 2013.

He has previously been the subject of US sanctions, accused of “sustained and severe violations of human rights”.

State television quoted prosecutors as saying the sentence was too light and that they planned to lodge a complaint.

His sentence is also open to appeal.

Custody deaths

Mortazavi, a close ally of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has been fiercely criticised by reformists and human rights organisations.

He rose to prominence in the early 2000s, when he was instrumental in shutting down reformist newspapers and imprisoning journalists.

He was also linked to the case of Zahra Kazemi, an Iranian-Canadian photojournalist, who died in 2003 after being arrested.

However, his fortunes began to change after the authorities put down mass protests that erupted after Mr Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election in 2009.

Parliament held him responsible for the deaths of three protesters who had been imprisoned.

The trio died of injuries obtained during their time in Kahrizak prison. Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, responded to the public outcry by closing the prison entirely.

Mortazavi was subsequently appointed as head of Iran’s State Welfare Organisation, during which time the alleged corruption took place.

He was removed from that role in January 2013 due to pressure from parliament. But Mr Ahmadinejad quickly reappointed him in a caretaker capacity.

In 2014, Mortazavi was disbarred and banned from holding public office for five years, after the Supreme Court upheld a ruling that he ordered the torture of the three dead protesters in 2009.

Iran continues to use forms of punishment widely condemned by other nations.

Human rights groups such as Amnesty International say punishments including blinding, being made deaf, or amputation are common.

 

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