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Covert Terror: Iran’s Parallel Intelligence Apparatus Covert Terror: Iran’s Parallel Intelligence Apparatus

Covert Terror: Iran’s Parallel Intelligence Apparatus Covert Terror: Iran’s Parallel Intelligence Apparatus

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Published by IHRDC
This report, together with the report Mockery of Justice: the Framing of Siamak Pourzand (2008), present a comprehensive picture of the clandestine and brutal activities of the Parallel Intelligence Apparatus or nahadhayih ittila’atiyih movazi that operated in Iran during the presidency of reformist Mohammad Khatami from 1997 to 2004. Used by the conservative establishment to maintain control over the levers of state during that period, these groups were linked to numerous government agencies including the Judiciary but operated outside the law.
This report, together with the report Mockery of Justice: the Framing of Siamak Pourzand (2008), present a comprehensive picture of the clandestine and brutal activities of the Parallel Intelligence Apparatus or nahadhayih ittila’atiyih movazi that operated in Iran during the presidency of reformist Mohammad Khatami from 1997 to 2004. Used by the conservative establishment to maintain control over the levers of state during that period, these groups were linked to numerous government agencies including the Judiciary but operated outside the law.

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Categories:Types, Research, Law
Published by: IHRDC on Jul 29, 2009
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05/11/2014

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Iran’s Judiciary was deeply involved in the systematic human rights abuses perpetrated by the
PIA. This section documents and discusses the complicity of the Judiciary in the denial of
fundamental due process rights to victims unlawfully arrested, detained and tortured by the PIA.
Although the Judiciary’s security and intelligence units (i.e., the Intelligence Protection Center)
played a critical and direct role in the activities of the PIA, this section focuses on the relationship
between the official (i.e., judicial) functions of this branch and the denial of fundamental due
process rights.

401

Witness Statement of Ebrahimi, supra note 92, paras. 32-35.

402

IRANIAN CONST., supra note 16, art. 38.

403

Citizen Rights Law, supra note 63, art. 9; Criminal Code of Procedure, supra note 87, art. 129. Article 129 requires
that interrogation questions be necessary and clear. Interrogations may not be accompanied by manipulation, duress or
compulsion. Article 131 requires that answers to questions posed during interrogations must not be altered or changed
by the interrogators. Id. art. 131.

404

ICCPR, supra note 80, art. 14(g).

64

The Judiciary was not only unwilling to check the abuses of the PIA, but played an active role in
denying victims fair hearings pursuant to Iranian and international law. This denial included, but
was not limited to, the denial of the right to counsel, participation of members of the Judiciary
(including judges) in interrogation sessions, visits by members of the Judiciary to illegal detention
facilities, taping of forced confessions, intimidation, harassment and beatings of detainees, and
denial of open trials.

The Iran Constitution vests the Supreme Leader with absolute power to determine and oversee the
policies of the Judiciary.405

The Constitution also grants the head of the Judiciary, an appointee of
the Supreme Leader, the power to appoint, dismiss, transfer, promote and discipline judges and
subordinates.406

The head of the Judiciary appoints the Chief of the Supreme Court, the general
prosecutor, and the heads of the Revolutionary, Military, Clergy, Administrative and General
Courts.407

In addition, he has the authority to introduce the Minister of Justice.408

Due to this structure, Iran’s Judiciary is particularly prone to pressure from political forces
seeking to exert their influence over the courts. Since the founding of the Islamic Republic,
thousands of clerics and revolutionary ideologues have been appointed to judicial and
administrative posts within the Judiciary.409

As a result, both the Judiciary’s competence and
independence are severely undermined. Not only are virtually all the high-ranking officials of the
Judiciary directly or indirectly appointed by the Supreme Leader, but the Judiciary’s power may
not be checked by any of the other branches, as the elected President and the Majlis have no
control over the selection of judges.

The Judiciary helped consolidate the regime’s power and legitimize crackdowns on political
dissidents.410

Conservatives were particularly successful in exploiting the powers granted to
judicial authorities to give a patina of legality to their activities.411

For example, Article 26 of
Iran’s Criminal Code of Procedure authorizes the head of each legal division to assign a case to
relevant branches. Although the law provides strict guidelines on how cases can be referred to a
court, it also gives prosecutors discretion to decide which type of court shall have jurisdiction to
rule over a particular case. 412

The Special Court of Mehrabad (Branch 1610), was especially sympathetic to the conservative
agenda.413

The presiding judge of the Special Court of Mehrabad was Judge Ja’far Saberi

Zafarqandi.414

Together with Saeed Mortazavi (Tehran’s Public Prosecutor) and Judge Haddad
(the Head of Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court), Zafarqandi was heavily involved in the
extrajudicial activities of the PIA.415

As a result, almost all PIA victims were denied fair trials.
The judges did not respect the principle of innocence until proven guilty, and in many cases, the

405

IRANIAN CONST., supra note 16, preamble, art. 5; see also BUCHTA, supra note 7, at 46.

406

IRANIAN CONST., supra note 16, art. 158.

407

See MOCKERY OF JUSTICE, supra note 4, at 5-8.

408

IRANIAN CONST., supra note, art. 160.

409

MOHAMMADI, supra note 13, at 130-136.

410

Id. at 124-126.

411

Id. at 182-190; MENASHRI, supra note 1, at 148.

412

Criminal Code of Procedure, supra note 87, art. 26.

413

Nazanin Namdar, Dadsarayih Furudgah, Qanuni ya Qayr-i Qanuni? [Is the Airport Prosecution Office Legal or
Illegal?], ROOZ ONLINE, 28/6/1384 (September 19, 2005) (copy on file with IHRDC).

414

Id. Unlike Iran’s Revolutionary and Public Courts, the Special Courts have territorially limited and legally narrow
jurisdictions. For example, some Special Courts have jurisdiction over specific types of crimes such as embezzlement,
economic crimes and internet crimes. The Special Court of Mehrabad has jurisdiction over crimes committed inside
Mehrabad Airport, Tehran’s former international airport, which would normally involve customs violations and drug
trafficking. See id. For more information regarding Judge Zafarqandi, see MOCKERY OF JUSTICE, supra note 4, at 25-28.

415

Witness Statement of Sazegara, supra note 12, para. 6.

65

verdicts were reported in newspapers sympathetic to the cause of the PIA weeks before the
official announcement.416

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