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Former Senior Judiciary Official In Iran On Trial For Large-Scale Corruption

Akbar Tabari, former deputy head of Iran's Judiciary in court. June 7, 2020

The former executive deputy of the Islamic Republic's powerful Judiciary has gone on trial for large-scale corruption on Sunday, June 7 in Tehran.

Akbar Tabari served under Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli-Larijani from 2009 to 2019, immediately before the dismissal of the influential cleric once thought to be the next Islamic Republic Supreme Leader.

Amoli-Larijani's tenure as the head of the Judiciary and Chief-Justice abruptly ended after the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei replaced him with another cleric, Ebrahim Raeesi (Raisi), on March 7, 2019.

His dismissal was interpreted as the fall of the house of Larijani, once at the center stage of Iranian politics. Months later, Amoli-Larijani's older brother Ali Larijani, the Speaker of parliament for twelve consecutive years also announced that he would not seek reelection last February.

Many analysts believe that Akbar Tabari's arrest on July 16, 2019, was the last nail in the Larijanis' political coffin. This is seen in Iran as the result of power politics by different factions to position themselves to one day succeed Khamenei.

Tabari is accused of leading a network to receive bribes for influencing legal cases and judicial procedures.

Speaking at a press conference on July 16, 2019, the spokesman of the Islamic Republic Judiciary, Gholam Hossein Esmaili, disclosed Tabari was arrested for "exerting influence on some legal cases" and "having unlawful and unethical relationships" related to several lawsuits.

He is accused of receiving bribes in the form of land, villas and luxury apartments, as well as substantial amount of cash. The total amount is estimated to have been more than $5 million.

Iran's Judiciary is under the direct control of Supreme Leader Khamenei who appoints its head.

Widely known as "the judiciary's strongman in the shadows," Akbar Tabari, was the director of finance and then deputy head of the judiciary for executive affairs for more than two decades.

In a rare move, the state-run television broadcast Tabari's trial live.

The Prosecutor, Rasoul Qahramani (Ghahramani) accused Tabari of "obstructing the execution of justice” against influential senior Iranian officials "by forming a criminal group" within his office which "became a center... for certain accused individuals to settle their cases".