The hangman of Tehran may soon get a taste of his own medicine. Over the last decade, Saeed Mortazavi has jailed dozens of journalists and reformist politicians and was instrumental in squashing the opposition Green Movement after last year’s presidential election. He was openly associated with some of the regime’s worst post-election abuses. But in August he was stripped of his judicial immunity, and a Tehran prosecutor named him as the lead person accused in the abuses at Kahrizak prison, a notorious detention facility where at least three people were killed and a handful of others claimed they were raped.
Mortazavi’s high-profile fall isn’t only about justice. In recent months, political infighting in Tehran has reached such a fever pitch that many suspect Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei himself may have personally approved the prosecution in order to restore some semblance of unity in the regime. It evidently worked: when Mortazavi’s suspension was announced, 216 of the Parliament’s 290 members signed a joint statement applauding the move. But his next step is to the Supreme Court, where his fellow hardliners have clout. If the case gets thrown out, the harmony secured by indicting the regime’s enforcer could prove short-lived.