Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Judiciary has More Power than Supreme Leader

Iran’s former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unleashed his harshest criticism yet against the country’s judicial branch, saying it is more powerful than the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and it is not supervised by any higher authority, Radio Farda reports.

In a video interview published on Thursday, Ahmadinejad sharply attacked the judiciary and its head Sadegh Larijani for prosecuting his allies and said; due to the poor performance of the judiciary and its neglect of justice “the whole country is in danger.”

Several close friends of the former president are either convicted or facing pending trials. Mohammad Reza Rahimi, one of his deputies is currently serving a 5-year prison sentence due to conviction over corruption. His other deputy, Hamid Baghaei is currently facing various legal problems. Baghaei, who was released on July 26 after a two week detention, immediately made public remarks harshly attacking Iran’s judicial authorities and prison conditions. At one point, he went as far as saying, “we know you’ll be overthrown soon.”

Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, the head of president’s office under Ahmadinejad was officially charged last week over insulting the supreme leader, propaganda against the regime, illegal usage of government assets, insulting high ranking state officials and spreading lies.

Ahmadinejad accused the judiciary of corruption, tyranny and dictatorship and called the charges against his deputy Hamid Baghaei “fabricated”. Baghaei also has chosen to attack the judiciary as his defense strategy.

“I do not have 63 accounts, my daughter is not a spy, and I have not violated any laws in this country,” Baghaei said in a furious and sarcastic speech in front of the courthouse after the second session of his trial last month.

He was referring to two major accusations against Sadegh Larijani, the head of the judiciary. Because of these statements he was later charged with defamation of high-ranking officials. Facing a court case, Hamid Baghaei has taken refuge in a holy shrine in Iran, a centuries-old form of protest undertaken by those seeking to escape oppression at the hands of rulers, in October. Larijani has been reportedly transferring millions of dollars of his institution’s income to his private accounts. And according to unconfirmed reports, his daughter has been charged with espionage for British embassy in Tehran. The government and judiciary have denied both allegations.

Ahmadinejad also criticized the fact that, unlike many other countries, the prosecutors and prisons in Iran were under the control of the judiciary and said the judiciary has even handed over the supervision of some prison wards to the intelligence service and the revolutionary guards which is a clear violation of the law.

He described the death of a blogger Sattar Beheshti, 35, in the notorious Evin prison in 2012, as a result of having security and intelligence organs run the prisons and insisted, this was wrong and the judiciary was responsible for it. In his weblog, Beheshti had criticized the Iranian regime and its leader Ayatollah Khamenei for human rights violations and supporting the Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Beheshti died in custody a few days after his arrest.

When they violate the law in the case of the president’s deputy, “God may help the 17 million others who have a legal case in the judiciary,” Ahmadinejad said.

In the meantime, the pressure on Ahmadinejad and his allies continues. They have even tried the age-old tactic of taking refuge in a holy shrine, but it failed to achieve the desired result. Their ephemeral sit-in protest at the Shi’ite holy shrine of Shah Abdol-Azim in Shahr-e Rey, southern Tehran, ended when an alleged bunch of plainclothesmen stormed the shrine and battered the supporters of the former two-time president.