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Judiciary Head Says No To Hasty Trials, Dismisses UN Criticism

Head of Judiciary Sadegh Larijani (R), with Major general Mohammad Ali Jafari of IRGC during a meeting with revolutionary guards commanders, in, 2016.

While Iran’s senior judiciary authorities have called for a swift and “out of turn” trial for the Gonabadi dervishes, the top judge says he is against “hasty investigations.”

In a joint session with Justice Department authorities, the head of the judiciary, Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani, insisted he opposes “hastily tackling lawsuits” because the judiciary’s real aim is acting within the framework of the law.

“Sadly, some people are tempted by haste and call for swift trials, while some of the lawsuits need more time and consideration by the experts,” he said.

Larijani, directly appointed to his post in 2009 by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, did not name any of his colleagues, but judiciary spokesman and mid-ranking cleric Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei recently pointed out to the necessity for “swift punishment” of the Gonabadi dervishes who faced off with security forces.

Another mid-ranking cleric, Prosecutor-General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, agreed with Mohseni-Ejei, calling for swift punishment for the Sufi dervishes who tried to protect their elderly leader’s residence in northern Tehran.

Tehran police chief Hossein Rahimi went even further by saying that a former dervish who is accused of running a bus into police and their supporting plainclothes officers, killing three, will be executed before the Iranian new year, March 21.

Meanwhile, Larijani, whose 10-year term as head of the judiciary expires next year, took the opportunity to defend his colleagues and refute international criticism against Iran’s judicial system.

Larijani’s main target was the UN’s recent report on human rights violations in Iran.

The report, published on March 5, was drafted by Asma Jahangir, a Pakistani human rights activist and lawyer serving as UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran who died last month.

In the report, Jahangir wrote that she had seen "a worrying picture developing in the human rights situation" in Iran since her previous report in August.

"Despite assurances from the government, improvements are either not forthcoming or are being implemented very slowly and in piecemeal," said Jahangir, adding that she remained "alarmed" by the "consistently reported pattern of serious violations of the right to fair trial and denial of due process" in the country, citing arbitrary detentions and the use of torture and other ill-treatment particularly in prisons.

"Consistent reports received suggest a pattern of physical or mental pressure applied upon prisoners to coerce confessions, some of which are broadcast," the UN expert said.

The special rapporteur was never allowed to visit Iran, but she said she had met with at least six people in recent months who had fled the country and "who still bore marks of torture" suffered in detention.

Jahangir pointed to recent findings by the Freedom From Torture organization of widespread torture during interrogations of detainees, including rape and other sexual violence, electric shocks, and amputations.

She raised "grave concern [over] a pattern of denial of medical treatment to certain categories of detainees, especially prisoners of conscience, political prisoners, and human rights defenders."

She also called for a halt in executions, flogging, and amputations.

The reports said 482 executions were reported in the country in 2017, including five juvenile offenders, down from 530 in 2016 and 969 in 2015.

Larijani dismissed Jahangir’s finding as “baseless claims” and “undocumented reports.”