Iran\'s Former Top Judge Warns No Immunity despite Pleas from MPs
A conservative Iranian cleric on Friday echoed the warnings of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that the Islamic regime will not put up with continued criticism of its key institutions.
The remarks by Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, Iran's former top judge, come after increasingly hostile attacks on the conservative-run courts by embattled reformists allied with President Mohammad Khatami.
"There is no judicial immunity in the Islamic regime," he said, as deputies have stepped up their efforts to be freed from prosecution amid reports the courts are planning to try several leading reformist MPs.
"Even if a judge has done something wrong, one must not question the judiciary itself," Yazdi said during a sermon at Tehran university broadcast live on state radio.
"If anybody thinks they can break the pillars of the regime, they will surely take those desires to the grave," he said.
Khamenei warned the nation's restless reformists last week that "we will take action" if the unprecedented challenges to the courts as well as the nation's other institutions are not reined in.
Sources said some 50 pro-reform MPs signed an impeachment motion last week against Justice Minister Ismail Shushtari, saying he had failed to take measures to protect them from court pressure.
According to press reports, cases are being prepared against Mohammad-Reza Khatami, brother of the president and head of the largest pro-reform party, and at least two colleagues in parliament.
Khatami on Monday blasted Abbasali Alizadeh, director-general of Tehran's judiciary, and called for him to resign after hearing reports he was lobbying Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi, head of Iran's justice system, to take legal action against several members of the parliament's reformist majority.
"All I can say is that Alizadeh has departed from the road of justice with his comments and, if he considers himself to be a fair-minded person, he will tender his resignation," Khatami said.
Officials in the regime have repeatedly insisted that the courts are politically independent, but reformists have charged a double standard is at work against them.
In addition to closing every major pro-reform newspaper after reformists took control of parliament from conservatives in February's elections, the courts have jailed top journalists, editors and allies of the president.
The families of detained writers will rally outside a Tehran court Monday to protest what they call the "long and illegal" detentions of their loved ones as well as the "ugly and inappropriate behavior" of judges.
President Khatami himself has gone public in recent weeks with his frustrations, admitting he has been all but powerless to push through his program of political and legal reforms against conservative opposition.
He has yet to announce formally if he will seek re-election at the next presidential elections in June -- TEHRAN (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)