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The Truth Behind Iran’s Judicial Official’s Descendants Arrested

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On October 2, state media in Iran confirmed that two sons of Mohammad Mosaddegh Kahnamoui, the first deputy of the clerical regime’s judiciary, have been arrested in relation to a corruption case involving 20 trillion tomans. Given the dictatorial nature of the regime and its endemic corruption, where corrupt institutions thrive under the Supreme Leader’s Beyt and the Revolutionary Guards’ conglomerates, the news seems somewhat peculiar, casting doubt on the regime’s intentions in making this information public.

Mohammad Mosaddegh Kahnamoui has held significant positions in recent decades, including being the first deputy prosecutor general during Sadegh Larijani’s tenure, the legal deputy to the head of the judiciary, and the head of the Administrative Justice Court during Ebrahim Raisi’s presidency. In the initial months of Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei’s tenure as the head of the Judiciary, Mohammad Mosaddegh was appointed as the “first deputy of the head of the judiciary” and continues to hold this position.

During his time as the legal deputy of the Judiciary, Mohammad Mosaddegh proposed restricting the ability of “children of certain officials of the regime to study abroad,” a proposal that was not approved by the regime.

According to the Tasnim News Agency, the case of the two sons of Mohammad Mosaddegh was referred to the Judiciary and the IRGC Intelligence Organization about eight months ago in connection with the financial corruption case of Mohammad Rostami Safa, the owner of the Rostami Safa industrial group.

Purging rivals

Mohammad Rostami Safa is the owner of the Rostami Safa Industrial Group. The Safa industrial group initiated its operations in the 2000s in various sectors, including steel industries, metal structures, polymer industry, wire and cable production, stationery, food industry, and practical scientific education. However, given the monopolistic nature of this regime’s economy, no discrete capitalist individual or entity can attain this level of success and wealth independently. Hence, the public trial of a corrupt element is highly thought-provoking.

On August 21, Mashreq News, linked to IRGC’s Intelligence Organization, claimed that the organization had dealt a severe blow to banking offenders. The source highlighted that Rostami Safa who was previously hailed an “economic hero” by media affiliated with the so-called reformists, is now under investigation for financial misconduct.

Biased justice

In covering Rostami Safa’s case, the Mizan News Agency, despite publishing several reports from the suspect’s trial, did not mention the names or involvement of the first deputy of the Judiciary even once. This news agency, affiliated with the Judiciary, also reported on September 4 about the sentencing of Mohammad Rostami Safa to 15 years in prison and his two sons without referencing the involvement of the first deputy of the Judiciary’s sons, stating, “The verdict for other defendants was also issued by the court.”

In the past two decades, corruption cases involving various Iranian state officials, their children, and relatives have been made public. In many cases, officials have prevented the publication of details of these corruption cases.

Fundamentally, the law in the clerical dictatorship serves to protect the state. During its 44-year history, numerous impoverished people have been sentenced to severe and irreparable punishments like amputation of limbs or long-term imprisonment for theft. However, the public exposure and trial of those close to the regime, dealing with billions, have been very limited and with specific objectives.

Gholamhossein Karbaschi, the former mayor of Tehran and close to the former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, was sentenced to prison on charges of financial corruption in 1998. The aim was not only Karbaschi but to strike Rafsanjani and sideline one of his influential tools.

Karbaschi spent only two years in the special section of Evin prison (VIP rooms) which had the best professional and sanitary facilities, away from torture and maltreatment. In Rafsanjani’s diaries dated December 24, 1998, it is mentioned that he succeeded in obtaining a promise of clemency for Karbaschi from Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the regime.

Shahram Jazayeri, an Iranian billionaire, merchant, and broker, was arrested in 2002 at the age of 29 during one of the largest and most controversial economic cases. During the investigation, it was revealed that he had bribed many regime officials to secure immunity for himself and his companies. Shahram Jazayeri was released from prison on October 3, 2015, at the age of 43, after serving 13 years in detention.

He eventually received a complete acquittal verdict for the charge of disrupting the economic system by the special branches of the Supreme Court. On July 28, 2018, during an illegal exit from Iran at the border crossing, he was identified and detained by customs forces. In April 2023, a video of him grilling kebabs in a special prison suite caused a stir on social media.

The intricate case surrounding Saeed Mortazavi, who held various roles including torturer, Head of Social Security Organization, special representative of the president, deputy attorney general, and a judge implicated in the deaths of numerous protesters and Iran-Canadian journalist Zahra Kazemi, and even the son of a government official, is illuminating. He found backing from specific ruling factions but encountered enmity from others. This explains the consistent coverage of his trials and frequent job shifts in state media.

In a recent notable case that garnered media attention, in late 2020, Akbar Tabari, the former executive deputy of the judiciary, was sentenced to 31 years in prison for bribery. In September 2022, he was released on bail of 300 billion tomans. The prolonged trial and publicized arrest of Tabari essentially served to sideline Sadeq Amoli Larijani, the former head of the Judiciary and paved the way for Ebrahim Raisi.

Political Manipulation

In the authoritarian regime of the clergy where major looters govern and intellectuals face execution, the fight against corruption is merely exploited for political gains and purging rivals. In 2021, Khamenei made a renewed effort to endorse Ebrahim Raisi for the presidency by using state media to publicize several legal cases to paint him as a “champion in the fight against corruption.” Similar attempts had failed in 2017 due to Raisi’s appalling record in executing Iranians, particularly the 1988 massacre.

Another significant instance occurred when Mehdi Hashemi, who was closely associated with Hossein Ali Montazeri, was arrested by Khomeini in 1986. Khomeini utilized this to keep his deputy, Montazeri, in check. Despite Hashemi’s prior services to Khomeini, he faced execution in April 1989.

The clerical regime also deploys these judicial theatrics to stifle dissent within society. While feigning an unbounded sense of justice, it simultaneously magnifies threats and intimidation through extensive media coverage, thus escalating fear.

In light of this pattern, the trial of the offspring of a high-ranking Judiciary official is not just surprising; it should prompt an understanding of the issue Khamenei seeks to tackle through it. While the specifics will become clearer with time, what’s apparent is that the disgruntled Iranian society sharply discerns between justice and tyranny as it continues to call “Down with Khamenei.”