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Outspoken MP Comes To The Defense Of Rouhani

Ali Motahari on parliament floor.
Ali Motahari on parliament floor.

Hardly a day after the new round of saber rattling between the Islamic Republic’s judiciary head and President Hassan Rouhani, the outspoken deputy speaker of Iran’s parliament, Ali Motahari has also stepped into the ring.

In the new round of muscle flexing, Iran’s head of the judiciary bombarded the president with sarcastic comments, without naming him directly.

Responding to President Hassan Rouhani’s recent remarks, the head of the judiciary, Ayatollah Sadiq Amoli Larijani, insisted on Monday that people are not summoned to courts because the justice department suffers from "idleness" and has nothing better to do.

Defending Rouhani’s remarks, Ali Motahari reminded Amoli Larijani, “It’s not merely the question of summoning people to the courts, the question is rather what happens to the people after being summoned” adding, “Basically, that’s what President Rouhani meant when he criticized the judiciary for summoning some people to the courts of law”.

Motahari’s counterattack appeared in a note that was published in pro-government daily Etemad on Tuesday, October 10.

Three days earlier, at a meeting with Tehran university students, Rouhani had sarcastically commented, “There’s a chance that some entities are idle and have nothing to do; therefore, to create work for themselves, they summon a number of people [to the courts].”

It took two days for the head of the Judiciary, ayatollah Amoli Larijani to fire back.

Dismissing Rouhani’s comment by labeling it as “unfair”, Amoli Larijani growled on Monday, October 10, “It is not out of idleness that the justice department summons people to [the courts]. It does it on the basis of its principal and intrinsic duty and for the sake of applying justice.”

Reciprocating the attack, Motahari has reminded, “The main question is what happens to, let’s say a journalist after being improperly summoned to the “media court”. Long after being detained, even the family of the journalist remains unaware of his whereabouts, while according to the [Islamic Republic] Constitution; whoever is detained should be charged within 24 hours”.

Meanwhile, Motahari has further lamented, “In violation of the law, the judiciary keeps the detained journalist, for a long time, in solitary confinement, hoping that under physical and mental pressure, they will give in and admit to what is compatible with their imagined crime.”

The law explicitly stipulates, Motahari has argued in his note, “People may be detained only after the collection of evidence on what they are accused of”.

Furthermore, Motahari has referred to the case of two young journalists as an example of injustice done by the judiciary, “It’s more than a month that Sassan Aghaei is behind bars and the second journalist, Ms. Hengameh Shahidi was released after going on hunger strike, and that was without presenting any evidence against her”.

Meanwhile, the deputy speaker of parliament has admitted that MPs do not have much power to address this kind of injustice, “How long the MPs, particularly Tehran MPs are supposed to be the only point of reference for the families of people unjustly detained? They constantly come to us, whereas we cannot do much for them”, Motahari has said.

Without directly naming ayatollah Amoli Larijani, the deputy speaker of parliament has sarcastically noted, “From time to time, he [the head of the judiciary] comments on the regional and international affairs, as well as on JCPOA [or Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers] --It’s better for him to personally attend student gatherings and respond to their various questions, from time to time”.

However, Rouhani’s attacks against the judiciary have intensified since his first deputy’s brother was detained and new restrictions were imposed on reformist former president, Mohammad Khatami.

The other bone of contention between the two is the situation of the Green Movement leaders who have been under house arrest since February 2011.

While Rouhani has repeatedly promised to help lift the house arrests, the judiciary has always defended the extrajudicial decision.