Cartoon 56: Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, Minister of Justice?
Iran’s new president Hassan Rouhani nominated Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi for the post of justice minister on August 4, 2013. Rights groups have implicated Pour-Mohammadi in abuses that may constitute crimes against humanity, including the executions of thousands of political dissidents in 1988 and the assassinations of several prominent dissident intellectuals in 1998. As justice minister he could play a role in influencing investigations into human rights abuses.
In a 2005 report, “Ministers of Murder,” Human Rights Watch documented Pour-Mohammadi’s direct role in the extrajudicial executions of thousands of political prisoners. In the summer of 1988, Pour-Mohammadi, then a top deputy to the intelligence minister, sat on a commission charged with interrogating thousands of political prisoners and ordering many of them to the gallows. The death sentences were issued after revolutionary courts had already tried, convicted, and sentenced the vast majority of these people to prison on national security charges following unfair trials.
In the span of several weeks during the summer of 1988, Pour-Mohammadi and other officials sitting on similar commissions throughout the country interrogated thousands of political prisoners, including journalists, to determine whether they continued to hold steadfast in their beliefs, or were willing to repent for their “crimes.” After interrogation sessions that often lasted a few minutes and bore no resemblance to actual trials, commission members ordered the execution of those who refused to express remorse for their political activities. Authorities carried out the executions under a fatwa, or religious edict, issued by then-Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini and orders from high-level judiciary officials.
Pour-Mohammadi served as interior minister during former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s first term, from 2005 until 2008. He was deputy intelligence minister from 1990 to 1999, and a deputy intelligence minister from 1990 to 1999.