Ebrahim Raisi who was involved in extra-judicial killings of political prisoners in the late 1980s in Iran has been appointed as the Judiciary Chief, replacing Sadeq Amoli Larijani.
The spokesperson for Iran’s Judiciary has confirmed that Raisi who is considered a person trusted by the country’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is appointed as the head of the Judiciary.
Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, told Iranian media on Sunday that he will continue to work with the Judiciary under Raisi.
Meanwhile, Yahya Kamalipour, a member of the Iranian Parliament’s judiciary committee told reporters in Tehran on Sunday that Raisi will be officially introduced as Judiciary on Thursday March 7.
The head of the Judiciary is appointed directly by the Supreme Leader for a five-year term, which can be renewed.
Raisi has had a long tenure himself as a judge and that is when he was involved in decisions related to the mass murder of political opponents in prisons in 1988.
Raisi was a member of Khomeini’s ‘Death Committee’ in Tehran at that time, that sent tens of thousands of political prisoners to the gallows for refusing to denounce their political affiliation.
The Death Committees were formed based on a fatwa by Khomeini calling for the elimination of all political prisoners who continued to support the opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK).
As Deputy Prosecutor of Tehran at the time, Raisi sat on most of the Death Committee sessions in the capital and has been identified by numerous survivors as a key decision maker in ordering the executions.
He was also named by Khomeini’s former deputy, Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, who broke with the regime and published the text of Khomeini’s hand-written fatwa in his memoires.
Raisi is a close confidant of the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and has even been tipped as a possible successor to him. Currently Raisi is the custodian of Astan Quds Razavi, the wealthiest charity foundation in charge of Iran’s holiest shrine in Mashhad, northwestern Iran, with very close ties to Khamenei’s powerhouse.
Raisi and Mostafa Pour Mohammadi, Iran’s former Justice Minister in Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet, were two of the four members of the Death Commission who were tasked by then Supreme Leader Khomeini to summarily execute political prisoners. Khomeini hand wrote a fatwa, a religious decree, authorizing the Commission’s task.
In the summer of 1988, the Commission handed down 30,000 death sentences. The kangaroo courts hardly lasted more than three minutes on average. Some of the political prisoners who miraculously survived the slaughter have written or spoken of their ordeals.
A simple question was asked by the judges: Do you still believe in Mojahedin? And depending on the answer, one could end up before a hangman. The gruesome accounts of survivors, especially female prisoners, often leave the listeners in shock.
What first shined light on all of this was an audio tape that was leaked out by Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri’s son in August 2016. Montazeri, the handpicked successor of Khomeini, was sacked for his public objections to mass executions in 1988. He spent the rest of his life under house arrest and died in 2009.
In the moving tape, Montazeri can be heard telling a meeting of the “Death Commission” in 1988 that they are responsible for a crime against humanity. He said: “The greatest crime committed during the reign of the Islamic Republic, for which history will condemn us, has been committed by you. Your names will in the future be etched in the annals of history as criminals.” Pour Mohammadi has since admitted his role in the “Death Commission” and boasted that he was proud to “carry out God’s will and he has not lost sleep over what he did.”