Iranian Judiciary’s Spokesperson Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei says the country’s most notorious judge, former Tehran prosecutor and Press Court Judge Saeed Mortazavi, has vanished into thin air before going to jail as “accomplice in murder.”
President Hassan Rouhani’s media adviser Hesamoddin Ashna warned on April 13 that Mortazavi might flee in order to evade justice.
Meanwhile, social media users commenting on the development have questioned the Judiciary’s authority and the regime’s integrity.
Mortazavi was sentenced to jail for two years after an unusually long judicial process that took nearly nine years to be finalized.
Although Mortazavi was accused of breaking the law in several cases, including the murder in jail of Canadian-Iranian journalist Zahra Kazemi in 2003 and harassment of scores of journalists for more than two decades, he was only condemned as an accomplice in murdering three young men in a detention camp south of Tehran in the aftermaths of the unrest that followed the disputed presidential election in 2009.
Abdolhossein Rouholamini, the father of one of the victims, Mohsen Rouholamini, who happens to be a regime insider close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, took the case to several courts during the past nine years and persistently chased Mortazavi to make sure that he does not escape justice.
Finally, Mortazavi was handed down the sentence and was supposed to go to jail. ButRouholamini’s lawyer, Majid Taheri, told reporters in Tehran that not only Mortazavi’s whereabouts is unknown, but the dossier containing his case is no longer at the disposal of the court.
Earlier, Khorassan newspaper quoted Ejei as saying during a meeting with university students in Mashad that a court verdict calls for imprisoning Mortazavi for two years, but unfortunately Judiciary authorities were not able to arrest him as his whereabouts are not known.”
Reacting to Ejei’s comments, presidential aide Ashna warned the Judiciary to stand watchful as Mortazavi might flee the country, reminding judiciary officials of a similar case of evasion in which a bank governor fled Iran with millions of dollars.
Ashna said in a tweet “Mortazavi carries many secrets with him,” adding that if he flees, “the history of a decade of judiciary’s secrets might vanish.”
Saeed Mortazavi, nicknamed “the hangman of the press” was the judge at the Tehran Press Court from mid 1990s to late 2000s. During his term of office as the Press Court judge, he banned tens of reformist publications and imprisoned scores of journalists.
Former Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi has said hat “Mortazavi was the main person responsible for the murder of Zahra Kazemi.”
Mortazavi had said in March following his official conviction “I have not been summoned for the execution of the imprisonment order. I am not aware of that.”
Following Mortazavi’s apparent disappearance, political figures and other users have commented on the case, many saying they were surprised by the news of Mortazavi’s vanishing. “How come Iranian authorities arrest terrorists on board aircraft, and detain criminals while they are in the air, but fail to arrest Mortazavi on the ground,” tweeted one user.
Some other users charged that Mortazavi has served the regime very well as a judge, and maybe the regime is now protecting its own man.