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Iran judge disbarred over protester deaths

November 16, 2014

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s Supreme Court has disbarred a hardline judge over his role in the death by torture of at least three jailed anti-government protesters in 2009, the semiofficial ISNA news agency reported.

Saeed Mortazavi, an ally of former hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has also been barred from all government positions for five years, ISNA reported late Saturday.

A parliamentary probe in 2010 found Mortazavi responsible in the torturing to death of at least three anti-government protesters detained during mass demonstrations in the wake of Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election in 2009. At the time, he was Tehran prosecutor general and responsible for Kahrizak prison in the Iranian capital.

Mortazavi has rejected the allegations, and ISNA quoted him as saying he was convicted because of “exercise of opinion and derailing the case from its legal path.”

The three prisoners, detained in the unprecedented protests following Ahmadinejad’s re-election, died in Kahrizak a month after their arrest. The case embarrassed Iranian authorities and ignited fierce criticism of the government and its treatment of those detained over the protests.

Mortazavi was already a divisive figure, dubbed the “butcher of the press” by reformists over his role in the closure of more than 120 newspapers and the imprisonment of dozens of journalists and political activists over his 13-year career.

Mortazavi was briefly arrested and jailed for a day in Feb. 2013 over the prison deaths. He was suspended as Tehran prosecutor general after the parliament’s 2010 probe and his case remained open for a judicial investigation.

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