The head of Iran’s judiciary, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, says the Iranian opposition leaders have not been arrested, despite their alleged seditous aims, in order to avoid turning them into “saints.”
Iranian hardliners have often accused the judiciary of failing to adequately confront the opposition and others who support the election protests, which they refer to as “sedition.”
“It is unfair to say that the judiciary has been indulging the seditionists,” Ayatollah Larijani was quoted as saying by Iranian media. “We have processed more than 1,000 files, and several people linked to the seditious movement have been sentenced and are currently serving their prison terms.”
Iranian authorities refer to the mass protests that sprang up against alleged fraud in the 2009 presidential elections as “sedition.” Mehdi Karroubi and MirHosein Mousavi, who ran against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the elections and have disputed the outcome, have been branded “leaders of the sedition” by the Islamic Republic establishment.
“In terms of the sedition leaders, it is essential to focus on the interests of the regime,” Iran’s judicial chief said. “Furthermore, the decision regarding this matter does not rest with me. The Vali Faqih (Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei) determines the interests of the regime, so this is an issue that is beyond the authority of the judiciary.”
Ayatollah Larijiani said he agrees with the government’s restraint in dealing with the opposition leaders, “because if we had confronted the leaders of the sedition, they would have been turned into saints.”
The government crushed Iran’s election protests of 2009 through violent confrontations in the streets and widespread arrests. Numerous senior aides and supporters of Mousavi and Karroubi have been arrested and sentenced, but the two challengers of Ahmadinejad’s victory have not been officially charged with sedition, despite the verbal charges consistently hurled at them by the establishment.
Mousavi, a former prime minister, and Karroubi, twice speaker of the parliament, both have a prominent place in the history of the Islamic Republic. The Supreme Leader has thrown his weight behind Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but so far has steered away from accusing his opponents of direct involvement in sedition.
Ayatollah Larijani insisted once again that Mousavi and Karroubi were telling “a big lie” then they alleged fraud in the presidential elections. He rejected the possibility that Mousavi might have been the actual winner.