Death Committee Member Appointed as Regime Judiciary Chief
Regime Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei recently appointed Ebrahim Raisi, a senior member of the “death committee” that sent thousands of political prisoners to their executions in the 1988 Massacre, as the new Judiciary Chief.
Indeed Raeesi, a member of the "death commission" set up by Ruholah Khomeini, issued death decrees resulting in the massacre of as many as 30,000 political prisoners in #1988massacre in Iran. more details in this report, "Iran: Where Mass Murderers Rule" https://t.co/fIRzPiNp4B
— Alireza Jafarzadeh (@A_Jafarzadeh) March 5, 2019
On Sunday Mohseni Ejei, a spokesperson for the regime’s judiciary confirmed Raisi’s appointment, and Yahya Kamalipour, a member of the Parliament’s judiciary committee said that Raisi would be officially introduced on Thursday, March 7th. Raisi will replace Sadeq Amoli Larijani as head of the judiciary. He will serve a five-year term, which may be renewed.
Raisi has received support from regime President Hassan Rouhani and his faction, which is unusual considering Rasi’s connections to Khamenei and his supporters. It is rare for the two groups to find common cause on any issue lately, but Mostafa Tajzadeh and Mahmoud Sadeghi both tweeted their support of the appointment. The same behavior was recently seen when Foreign Minister Javad Zarif resigned and then rescinded his resignation over a 24 hour period. He received support from Qassem Suleimani, the head of the Quds Force and member of a rival faction. The regime appears to have chosen to show an outward display of solidarity in the face of domestic and international crises.
Raisi’s Role in the 1988 Massacre
In the summer of 1988, Ebrahim Raisi sat on the Tehran Death Committee, along with former Minister of Justice Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi. The death committees were formed after then-Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for the deaths of all MEK political prisoners. Raisi and the other members of the committee sentenced thousands of political prisoners, most of whom were members or supporters of the MEK, to death solely because of their political beliefs. Trials in the kangaroo court lasted only a few minutes, and anyone who refused to renounce their support for the MEK was sent to the gallows. People were hanged in groups in order to keep up with a large number of executions being carried out and then buried in mass graves. Teenagers and pregnant women were among those who were murdered by the regime.
More than 30,000 people were executed during a single summer in the 1988 Massacre. The perpetrators of this crime against humanity have never been brought to justice. A number of human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, have called for an independent investigation to be launched and for the perpetrators to be held accountable, but this has still not occurred, and many of the criminals responsible for the murder of 30,000 innocent people have held powerful positions within the regime. Ebrahim Raisi is the only the latest war criminal to take a position of authority within the regime.
Raisi was the Deputy Prosecutor in Tehran in 1988 and has been identified by name by a number of survivors of the massacre as one of the primary people responsible for ordering the executions of MEK members. Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, Khomeini’s former deputy, wrote about Raisi in his memoir.
Montazeri was Khomeini’s intended successor, but he was recorded objecting to the massacre in 1988 while it was going on. In the audio recording, Montazeri can he heard saying that history would condemn the mullahs for these crimes. In 2016, the audio tape was leaked by his son, and Montazeri was removed from power and placed under house arrest, where he remained for the rest of his life
Two Death Committee Members Become Chiefs of Judiciary
Pour-Mohammadi, the other death committee member who went on to become Chief of the regime Judiciary, gave an interview after the release of the Montazeri tape. He bragged about being part of the death committee, saying that he was “proud to carry out God’s will” and never lost sleep over sending thousands of people to their deaths. He also said that Montazeri’s son Ahmad committed an “act of treason” by leaking the tape and that in doing so he betrayed Khomeini, his father, and the Islamic Revolution.
In the televised interview, he also said, “Well, I defended [Khomeini’s] move. We had a mission in regards to the [MEK], back when I was the Revolutionary Court prosecutor. I issued many indictments against the [MEK] and sent it to the court. Many of them were condemned, many were executed and many other verdicts.”
Ebrahim Raisi is the latest war criminal to attain a high-ranking position within the regime, but he is not the first. He is not even the first perpetrator of the 1988 Massacre to become Chief of the Judiciary. The families of those killed in the summer of 1988 are still waiting for an investigation into their loved ones’ murders, while those who ordered their executions are named as arbiters of justice.