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Mortazavi may face trial for deaths at Kahrizak.

Three senior officials of the Tehran Prosecutor's Office have been suspended for their conduct at the Kahrizak Detention Center where four men died last year, the Mehr news agency reported Sunday. One lawyer said Saeed Mortazavi, the longtime nemesis of reformers, was one of those suspended and may now face prosecution himself.

News reports said it was the first time any Judiciary official had ever been suspended since the Judiciary was created in 1908 during the Constitutional Revolution. Employees of the Judiciary enjoy immunity from prosecution. Suspension makes them eligible for prosecution.

Mehr said it was given its information anonymously. It gave no names and did not say if one of the three was Mortazavi, who was the Tehran prosecutor last year when four demonstrators were beaten to death at Kahrizak.

Mortazavi was implicated as the central figure in the case by a Majlis investigation, but he has never been charged.

Hours after Mehr carried its report, the reformist Jarras website said Mortazavi was one of the trio that had been suspended. It quoted Saleh Nikbakht, a prominent attorney working for the family of one of men beaten to death at Kahrizak, as identifying Mortazavi as one of those suspended.

Nikbakht said the families of the victims can now file charges against the three men suspended.

Mortazavi may be the single official most disliked by reformers because he has handled the bulk of the court cases against dissidents and reformers for years. Many view him as the regime's political executioner. But a trial of Mortazavi could prove dangerous if he decides to strike back and reveal all the secrets he knows. On the other hand, many apparently believe Mortazavi got carried away by his power and threatens the regime with his excesses and must now be curbed at all costs. Abbas Abdi, a reformer who had a role three decades ago in seizing the US embassy, told The Washington Post, "His actions have been so foul that the system has become afraid of what it created."

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Quite vociferous in the past, he has said little in public since being promoted, a promotion that many thought was intended to shuttle him into obscurity.

Earlier this year, 12 people from the Kahrizak Detention Center were tried. Two, who have still not been named, were sentenced to death. One person was found innocent of all charges. The other nine were found guilty on lesser charges and sentenced to various prison terms and fines.

At least four men arrested in last summer's political protests were killed by beatings at Kahrizak. The government at first announced that they died from meningitis. But the father of one of the dead, Mohsen Ruhol-Amini, said several of his son's teeth had been knocked out and his face battered. The father is a prominent conservative figure who launched a personal initiative demanding action that has kept the case front and center.

Mortazavi has been at the center of the controversy.

Back In February, a fifth of the deputies in the Majlis signed a letter demanding his dismissal and trial for violations that led to the death of those in the Kahrizak Detention Center.

That was four weeks after a Majlis committee presented a report of its investigation putting the primary blame on Mortazavi for the wrongful incarceration of 147 protesters at Kahrizak, their mistreatment and the death of at least four.

Since the report was read to the Majlis, there has been virtually no comment about it by anyone outside of the Majlis. It is as if the Majlis report just sank into the sand.

A total of 57 Majlis deputies or 20 percent of the Majlis membership signed a letter to President Ahmadi-nejad and Judiciary Chairman Sadeq Larijani urging their two branches of the government to confront "the perpetrators of the Kahrizak catastrophe."

Majlis deputies usually like to release such letters only with a majority of the members as signatories. It is noteworthy that this letter only garnered the signatures of one-fifth of the depu

The letter complained that Mortazavi sent prisoners to Kahrizak even though Judicial orders barred such prisoners being sent there and even though Evin prison had plenty of room for all those arrested.

The January Majlis report said the men were beaten, crammed into a small cell with common criminals and left there without adequate food for days. Reports for months said three of those men died. But the government later acknowledged a fourth man died there.
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Publication:Iran Times International (Washington, DC)
Date:Aug 27, 2010
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