Tehran's outspoken MP and deputy speaker of parliament Ali Motahari has called for former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be held accountable in a public trial.
Ahmadinejad and his companions are “not worthy enough” to be considered the opposition, Motahari said, adding they should stand an open trial.
Meanwhile, in a letter, Ahmadinejad’s former chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, accused Iran’s judiciary of becoming an instrument for empowering and establishing the authority of a number of specific persons and groups while crushing opponents and those who criticize the current situation.
In an interview with Iran Students News Agency (ISNA) on December 6, Motahari emphasized that Ahmadinejad’s trial must be open to the public and that he should be held responsible for his illegal actions.
Deriding Ahmadinejad and his allies as the members of the “Basketist Cult,” Motahari said, “They do not have the necessary caliber to even be considered the opposition.”
After Ahmadinejad’s former deputy for executive affairs, Hamid Baghaei, attended a court hearing session carrying a red basket full of documents, a state-run news agency close to the judiciary, Mizan, coined the term Basketists to describe the former president and his supporters.
There are pending cases against Ahmadinejad in the Judiciary, but so far no action has been taken. These cases deal mainly with financial improprieties.
A self-exiled Iranian journalist, Mehdi Mahdavi Azad, told Radio Farda that labeling Ahmadinejad and his followers is beside the point.
“Ahmadinejad is trying to represent himself and his school of thought as a new voice protesting the current situation in Iran,” he said. “He is trying to distance himself from the ruling system while attracting dissident parts of society who are enraged by [Supreme Leader] Ali Khamenei and the head of the judiciary’s actions.”
Mahdavi Azad said there’s a consensus among political groups in Iran, including groups supporting subversion, that Ahmadinejad’s new attempts are opportunistic and doomed to fail.
The real reason behind the former president’s recent vitriolic attacks against the judiciary, according to Mahdavi Azad, is the fact that “Ahmadinejad has concluded that, after prosecuting his closest allies, they will soon directly come for him as well.”
However, going after the former two-term president -- who was repeatedly praised by Khamenei as an epitome of servitude for the people and the revolution -- requires the supreme leader’s approval. Khamenei, however, has distanced himself from the war of words between the two sides.
Ahmadinejad has learned over the years that so long as Khamenei remains neutral, it is next to impossible for anyone to hold Ahmadinejad accountable for a series of charges, including financial corruption and mismanagement.
In November 2010, several MPs attempted to call the then-president out for what they charged was sidestepping the constitutional powers of the Parliament and circumventing checks and balances.
The protesting MPs, in a letter to the Guardian Council, listed 14 infringements, including foot-dragging by the administration on the implementation of a variety of laws as well as financial irregularities.
Ahmadinejad was also accused of three years of unauthorized imports of gasoline and diesel worth around $10 billion and the failure to account for up to 40 percent of his spending on numerous visits to cities across the country, which he called “provincial travels.”
The MPs’ attempt was nipped in the bud when Khamenei refrained from giving his backing.
Ahmadinejad and his supporters recently described the judiciary as ruthless, unjust, tyrannical, and devious. Nevertheless, the justice department, notorious for prosecuting anyone who dares to criticize the ruling system, has preferred to carry on saber-rattling with the former president rather than legally charging him.