Iran's judiciary chief has named hard-line Tehran
prosecutor Said Mortazavi -- the man behind mass trials of post-election
detainees -- deputy prosecutor general.
Officially the move is a promotion for Mortazavi, but legal experts say his power has diminished.
Mortazavi is known as "the Butcher of the Press" because he was the bane of Iran's independent and reformist publications.
He has ordered the closure of more than 100 pro-reform publications as well as the summoning to court and jailing of journalists and bloggers.
Among them was the New York-based journalist Roozbeh Mirebrahimi, who was jailed in Iran in 2004 with several of his colleagues and forced to make false confessions.
The case's aim was to implicate reformist figures in spying and other actions that violate Iran's national security laws. Mortazavi was in charge of the case.
Mirebrahimi tells RFE/RL he was happy to read the news about Mortazavi's removal as Tehran prosecutor, describing Tehran's prosecutor's office as "the jugular vein of the judiciary of the Islamic republic."
He adds that he believed that as long as Mortazavi was Tehran's prosecutor, "judicial reforms wouldn't be possible."
Another Iranian journalist, Fereshteh Ghazi, says that for Iranian journalists, Mortazavi brings up painful memories -- such as the closure of newspapers, imprisonment, the loss of their jobs, and being forced to leave Iran and become homeless.
Mirebrahimi thinks Motazavi was a pawn of the
regime. "I don't think he was on his own in all he did," he says. "It's true
that it was personal to some extent. But he had a powerful backer."
Mirebrahimi says Mortazavi told him several times: "I am one quarter of the country. One fourth of the country's power is in my hands." He adds a person cannot say such a thing without having "prominent backers."
Mortazavi was the head prosecutor in the trial of a number of top reformist figures who have been accused of involvement in planning postelection protests and plotting a "velvet coup."
Tehran-based lawyer Nemat Ahmadi told RFE/RL's Radio Farda that the removal of Mortazavi and the creation of a special committee to investigate the postelection unrest could have a positive impact on the fate of the prominent reformist detainees.
But Seyfzadeh, from the Center of Human Rights Defenders, is less optimistic. He believes that those in power now are "determined to eliminate the opposition that is from within the establishment, having already sidelined the children of the revolution and the opposition."
Seyfzadeh thinks the process will go on till "the end," unless "something else happens."
A blogger has reacted to Mortazavi's new appointment by thanking the new head of the judiciary for the reminder that "the Islamic establishment cannot be reformed."
The blogger writes, "Tehran's executioner becomes the state executioner!"
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