Khamenei appoints new judiciary chief, calls for 'quick and easy' verdicts

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (left) has appointed Guardian Council member Hojatoleslam Sadegh Ardeshir Larijani (at right) as the new head of Iran's judiciary. Larijani is the younger brother of parliament speaker Ali Larijani.


AFP - Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has appointed Hojatoleslam Sadegh Ardeshir Larijani as the country's new chief of the judiciary, state television reported on Saturday.

Larijani, the younger brother of parliament speaker Ali Larijani, replaces Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi and will head the powerful judiciary for five years.

The Khamenei decree appointing Larijani called for "quick and easy" justice to be applied under the new judiciary chief.

"It is expected that the judiciary's pillars be healthy, verdicts be certain and decided easily and quickly... the people in charge of this establishment must not fall short of efforts to meet these expectations," it said.

Larijani is the third head of the judiciary to be appointed by Khamenei since he became the Islamic republic's supreme leader in 1989.

The two previous heads enjoyed two terms of five years each.

Born in 1960 in Iraq's Shiite holy city of Najaf, Larijani has been a member of the powerful electoral watchdog, the Guardians Council, since 2001. He is the author of several scholarly publications.

Larijani grew up in a religious family. His father, Ayatollah Mirza Hashem Amoli, had escaped persecution during the Pahlavi regime in early 1930s.

His appointment comes at a crucial time as the conservative judiciary mulls the fate of people charged with protesting against the result of the June election which returned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power.

Some 200 protesters are still behind bars, while 110 have been put on trial for their alleged role in the post-election riots in which around 30 people were killed, according to officials.

The trial of another 25 people is slated to start on Sunday.

Last month Shahrudi urged his officials to decide quickly on the fate of the protesters, while Ahmadinejad himself had asked Shahrudi to release those held in prisons by August 7.

Larijani's appointment also comes as opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi has made repeated claims that jailed protesters have been raped, tortured and beaten to death.

Asghar Jafari, head of the Iranian police's crime detection department, said the new chief of the judiciary must ignore complaints by Western human rights groups and adhere to Islamic law.

"Why should we prefer the satisfaction of Westerners who are never happy with us over the security of our own people?" the official IRNA news agency quoted him as asking.

Jafari also urged the judiciary to use Islamic punishment in robbery cases.

"I have no doubt that if God's punishment is carried out, 99 percent of robberies will not happen," he was quoted as saying.

Amputation is part of the Islamic penal code for robbery, but is rarely applied in Iran and only then to repeat offenders.

In November 2005 the prison authorities amputated the left foot of a man convicted of armed robbery in the southwestern city of Ahvaz.

Western rights groups have repeatedly expressed concern over violations of human rights in Iran in cases involving mass executions, death sentences for minors as well as death by stoning.

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