Pro-Ahmadinejad former Iranian prosecutor arrested

Tue Feb 5, 2013 2:25am EST
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DUBAI (Reuters) - A former Iranian prosecutor linked to the deaths of anti-government protesters and at the center of a power struggle between the country's president and parliamentary speaker has been arrested, the Tehran prosecutor's office said.

No reason was given for the arrest of Saeed Mortazavi, who has played a central role in stamping out dissent following the disputed reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009, and been described by Human Rights Watch as a "serial human rights abuser".

But the timing suggested it might be linked to his role in the dispute between Ahmadinejad - who is travelling to a summit in Egypt - and Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, which has intensified with the approach of presidential elections.

The president was quoted as describing Mortazavi's detention as "very ugly" and saying it would be investigated on his return.

"The Tehran prosecutor announced Monday night that Saeed Mortazavi has been arrested," read a one-line statement from the prosecutor's office.

Iran's Fars news agency reported Mortazavi was taken to Evin Prison, and said he was arrested as he was leaving work.

Mortazavi was suspended from his judicial post over the deaths by torture of three protesters in custody after the 2009 presidential election, which the opposition claimed was rigged in Ahmadinejad's favour, bringing huge crowds into the streets.

Fars said Mortazavi's arrest on Monday could be linked to his involvement in the prison deaths. The spokesman for Iran's judiciary, Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei, said in January that Iran's court would address the cases in March.

But Mortazavi's name surfaced in another context on Sunday, when Ahmadinejad accused the parliament speaker's family of corruption, deepening a long-standing rivalry between the two.   Continued...