As the Iranian judiciary prepares to try another wave of post-election
protesters and opposition supporters, Sunday, government TV is
announcing that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has appointed a
new hard-line head of the judiciary. The appointment was not
Iranian judiciary has taken a leading role in trying to quell
opposition protests, with a series of recent trials of opposition
leaders and protesters, and the nomination of a new judiciary chief
will set the tone for where the process is heading.
government TV reports Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has named
Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani as the new head of the judiciary to replace
the stern-looking two-term veteran chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi
Larijani is the younger brother of Iran's well-known
parliament speaker Ali Larijani, and is currently a member of Iran's
powerful electoral watchdog Guardian Council, which last month rejected
charges of vote-rigging in the disputed June 12 presidential election.
TV paid tribute to outgoing judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi
Shahrudi, showing him presiding over a judicial oversight committee as
well as meeting with ordinary employees of the judiciary.
Shahrudi insisted that he had made many administrative improvements,
both technically and administratively during his tenure as head of the
He says that he has tried to adopt new computer
systems and information technology to the work of the Iranian
judiciary, in addition to streamlining the bureaucracy.
decree appointing Larijani to succeed Shahrudi came with a caveat from
Ayatollah Khamenei, who insisted that "quick and easy justice be
applied" by the judicial branch during his new tenure.
Khamenei has come under harsh criticism for the arbitrary imprisonment
of opposition demonstrators, so the wording of the decree could be
designed to appease opposition leaders.
Opposition head Mir
Hossein Moussavi along with defeated reformist candidate Mahdi Karroubi
have repeatedly condemned the abuse of prisoners, as well as what they
have called "show-trials" of opposition supporters.
Khonsari of the London-based Center for Arab and Iranian Studies says
that the appointment of Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani was not unexpected,
and that he doesn't think it is a response to criticism by the
opposition over mistreatment of prisoners.
"This is not a
surprise move," said Khonsari. "This had been announced before.
Larijani's brother who is a mullah had already been appointed by
[Ayatollah] Khamenei to replace [Ayatollah Shahrudi]. So, this is not
because of the mitigating circumstances having to do with the
ill-treatment of prisoners or other abuses of the judiciary."
also does not think that the Iranian judiciary will change much under
Sadeq Larijani, and that like his brother Ali, he isn't much of a
"The brother is not a moderate," said Khonsari. "He is
a moderate amongst the hardliners, or he sounds moderate, but he is a
very staunch supporter of Ayatollah Khamenei. Ali Larijani has clearly
drawn a line in the sand as far as where he stands and I'm sure where
his brother stands, regarding the people that are critical of the
"He supports everything that
[Ayatollah] Khamenei has said … regarding Western interference in Iran,
and his brother, I think, will follow suit, and be quite subservient to
Khamenei's whims in the judiciary," he added.
Larijani will be the third person to head the Iranian judiciary since
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei became Iran's supreme leader in 1989. His
predecessors Ayatollah Shahrudi and Ayatollah Mohammed Yazdi both
served two five year terms.