Former President Ahmadinejad Opens Fire on Iranian Judiciary

Tensions between Iranian former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Head of the judiciary Sadegh Larijani have reached a climax following a video message criticizing the latter. Ahmadinejad attacked Tuesday the head of the judiciary and said he was “lawless and usurper,” giving the judiciary 48 hours before publishing documents related to his conviction.

He issued a video message on Sunday in which he demanded that Larijani make public documents proving accusations against him and his allies, threatening that he would release incriminating evidence about the justice department within 48 hours.

“Otherwise, I would publicly present my findings on the judiciary’s head and his performance during past eight years,” he warned.

Moreover, the former president cautioned that he will do whatever is in his capacity to defend people’s rights against the Islamic Republic’s judicial organ.

“More than ever, this is the right time to defend the oppressed against the judiciary. If the judiciary is reformed, everything would be set aright in Iran. These people [in charge of the judiciary] must go and, soon they will be gone. Now, Larijani lacks legitimacy due to frequent violations of the constitution, laws and the emergence of signs of his inadequacy. The continuance of his responsibility as the judiciary chief violates the rights of the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the Islamic Republic and the people as the main owners of the country and the revolution, and that is why he is a usurper”, Ahmadinejad reiterated.

In response to Ahmadinejad’s threat, Iranian Prosecutor General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri vowed to give Ahmadinejad what he asked for. “I will answer him in the next one or two days,” Montazeri said Monday.

Larijani, for his part, has ordered his staff to publish details about the legal cases filed against the former president. A day later, the government’s official news agency IRNA cited Larijani’s order to judiciary officials, “While avoiding quarrelsome disputes, we should respond to misgivings and clarify doubts up to the required necessary point.”

Larijani insisted that by publishing “fake news” and information based on “human rights excuses,” some of the “convicts” are falsely presented as “heroes”, whereas what has so far been in the media are not the real charges they face. However, the head of the judiciary did not elaborate further and stopped short of mentioning any specific legal cases.

Ahmadinejad’s friction with Larijani has significantly deepened since his former presidential deputy for executive affairs, Hamid Baghaei, was detained and prosecuted for financial corruption. Baghaei, currently freed on a heavy bail, has also repeatedly lambasted Iran’s top judge for being a ruthless, corrupt dictator.

Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad and his companions recently wrote a letter to Khamenei asking him to step in and assign Mahmud Hashemi Shahroudi — chairman of the Expediency Council, deputy speaker of the Assembly of Experts, and a former head of the judiciary — to weigh the legal charges. They have insisted they are innocent and the charges filed against them fabricated.

In the latest in a series of clashes between Ahmadinejad and Iran’s powerful Larijani brothers, Sadegh Larijani has revealed that the former president had taken steps to implicate his daughter in an espionage plot — and fought back.

The Larijani brothers face accusations of illegal activity and corruption in three separate and very different cases — and the cases have been raised in public and in the media more regularly in recent months, led in part by Ahmadinejad. And although the brothers have substantial political weight, these attacks have taken a toll on the influential family’s public image.

In an address to university students, the Iranian Judiciary Chief Sadegh Larijani said that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had asked Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, for information regarding rumors of espionage charges against Larijani’s daughter Zahra. When Shamkhani told Ahmadinejad there was no truth to the rumors, the former president told him: “then you don’t know. Zahra Larijani has been arrested and we even know her place of detention.”

What makes Sadegh Larijani’s account particularly interesting is that it shows that Ahmadinejad has not only attacked the Larijanis in public and in the media, he has also extended his attacks, seeking out and addressing Islamic Republic officials at the highest levels.

And Larijani was sure to point out another Ahmadinejad attack against another of his brothers. In the last months of his presidency, on February 3, 2013, Ahmadinejad presented a video before the Iranian parliament that appeared to show Fazel Larijani procuring bribes. The chief of judiciary quoted the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, who a few days later strongly condemned Ahmadinejad’s action, calling it “illegal, immoral and against sharia”.

The public has responded to all three cases extremely negatively and has not been convinced by judiciary officials’ defective and vague explanations.

Before the recent scandals, one judiciary spokesman had invited people to be “patient” when it came to Ahmadinejad, implying that measures to deal with him are going on behind the scenes. Mohammad Reza Bahonar, a former member of the parliament, said recently that Ahmadinejad and his two allies — Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei and Hamid Baghaei —  planned to get arrested so that they could tarnish the regime. And Mohsen Rafighdoost, a former Revolutionary Guards officer, and a principlist politician, said that the judiciary was finalizing the case against Ahmadinejad.

“God willing,” he said, “They will deal with him soon enough.”