Former chief of the joint staff of Iranian armed forces, Major General Hassan Firouzabadi says he has returned a 10 thousand square meter villa he had occupied for 25 years.
Earlier, in what appeared to be a new round of infighting among Iranian conservatives, an ultraconservative student group had called on Firouzabadi on June 17 to return the expropriated villa, but Firouzabadi claimed on June 19 that the villa was given to him by the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to be used by him “for top secret business of the armed forces’ joint staff.”
In an open letter to Tehran’s prosecutor, an ultraconservative student group, called Justice Seeking Students Movement (JSSM), said Khamenei “has twice ordered the evacuation of the villa, but it is still occupied by the retired IRGC Major General Firouzabadi.”
Firouzabadi denied receiving any evacuation order. However, the student group told Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) that a court order has been issued ordering Firouzabadi to evacuate the villa, but he refused to do so and the police refused to carry out the evacuation order.
Police Chief Hassan Rahimi told reporters the police have not received any court order about the villa.
The JSSM was formed in early 2002, as a group supporting the anti-corruption statements of ayatollah Khamenei. As such, the group maintained regular presence in state sponsored meetings and gatherings. However, over time it somewhat gravitated toward former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and supported him in his two election bids.
While official news agency IRNA reported the value of the villa as 100 billion tuman (around $22 million based on official rate), Firouzabadi told reporters that the villa is “between 70 to 100 years old and has only four rooms in desperate need of refurbishment.”
The villa located in Lavasan, north of the capital, Tehran, was expropriated after the Islamic Revolution in 1979 and let for free to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps’ Major General Firouzabadi in 1993.
Social media users have said the villa belonged to Princess Ashraf, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s sister.
Officially however, the villa belongs to one of the financial institutions under the aegis of Khamenei’s office.
Firouzabadi is one of the Iranian officials listed in the EU sanctions for “violating human rights.” EU sanctions were imposed after IRGC violently cracked down on Iranian protesters following the disputed presidential elections in 2009.