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The Prosecutor’s Authority ‘One Phalanx Less Than God’s’

Gholam Ali Sadeghi, Mashhad Attorney General. Undated
Gholam Ali Sadeghi, Mashhad Attorney General. Undated

Mashhad’s prosecutor-general, while referring to the engagement of his office in a potpourri of cases, has declared, “The authority of the prosecutor-general is just a phalanx less than God’s.”

Gholam-Ali Sadeqi said in a speech, “A while ago, a friend of mine asked me why I engage in everything. Therefore, I should emphasize here that the domain of the prosecutor-general’s authorities is only one phalanx smaller than that of Almighty God.”

Sadeqi has been responsible for canceling many concerts and cultural events in the capital city of Khorasan-Razavi Province in northeastern Iran.

He was also behind an order last year to cancel a scheduled ceremony at which the parliament’s deputy speaker and outspoken Tehran MP was expected to address the audience.

Sadeqi -- or the Jack of All Trades Judge, as some have nicknamed him -- has also a record of interfering in urban planning and construction projects.

The project to construct Mashhad’s first beltway is currently suspended on his orders.

“This beltway plan is not in the interest of the people of Mashhad and is not going to help the flow of traffic in the city,” Sadeqi said.

Furthermore, last year, he made headlines by detaining a Mahan Air pilot whose flight had been delayed for 12 hours. That happened again last month when a Zagros Air pilot experienced the same fate and, accused of not flying on time, was arrested on Sadeqi’s order.

According to Sadeqi, Iran’s Civil Air authorities have told the Justice Department officials that, under his pressure, all flights from Mashhad airport are on time and the delays are “proportionally distributed” among other airports.

His comments have triggered widespread reactions on social media.

Mohsen Kadivar, an Iranian Islamic scholar and author based in the United States, recently weighed Sadeqi’s comments on his website, pointing out, “Such remarks are an indication to the insatiable greed of the officials of the Islamic Republic for more power and authority.”

Kadivar insisted that one should believe Sadeqi has not been exaggerating in his remarks. What he has said is the reflection of the reality. The ruling system’s officials, from the very top to the interrogators at Iran’s prisons claim having the same power and authority for themselves.

“The prosecutor general and his seniors do not seek the definition of their authority in the constitution. They arbitrarily interpret cases and conclude that the domain of their authority is one phalanx smaller than God’s,” Kadivar reiterated.

The head of the judiciary in Iran is directly appointed by the supreme leader and is only accountable to him.

The prosecutors have a wide range of power and, besides the right to prosecute citizens they can also block government measures, decisions, and plans.

According to Mehr News Agency, there are a total of 314 areas in which Iranian prosecutors have the right to step in.

However, as a rule, prosecutor-generals, as reflected in their title, are dutybound to tackle only cases that are detrimental to the public interest, according to legal analysts. They do not have the right to arbitrarily prosecute citizens without receiving complaints from a plaintiff, lawyers say.

Nevertheless, many legal experts and activists maintain that, in many cases, the prosecutors use their power for their own political means and as a way to refute the will of the majority.

Hundreds of media outlets have been banned and hundreds of political activists have been detained and sentenced to prison without having a private complainant.