x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

New salvos in Iran's political power struggle

Both friend and foe of the president face trouble in court.

TEHRAN // The Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his hardline rivals feuded yesterday as a presidential appointee was dismissed and his government pushed ahead with corruption claims against the brother of the parliament speaker.

Mr Ahmadinejad has faced more than a year of withering political attacks after challenging Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country's supreme leader, over the selection of the intelligence minister. Dozens of Mr Ahmadinejad's allies have been arrested or driven from power by backers of Mr Khamenei, and Mr Ahmadinejad has been left severely weakened with less than a year left in his second and final term.

The official IRNA news agency said a court dismissed a top government official who was implicated in the deaths of prisoners. The ruling against Saeed Mortazavi, the head of Iran's social security organisation, followed a lawsuit filed by a group of anti-Ahmadinejad parliamentarians.

In 2010, a parliamentary probe found Mr Mortazavi - then the chief Tehran prosecutor - responsible for the deaths by torture of at least three anti-government protesters who were in custody. Angry lawmakers in April threatened to impeach the country's labour minister, who made the appointment, over the case.

In a separate report, IRNA said Javad Larijani - the brother of both the country's parliament speaker and powerful judiciary chief - was under investigation over alleged land abuses.

Tehran's chief prosecutor Alireza Avaei said that a court was studying allegations that Mr Larijani illegally took control of hundreds acres of protected land. The claims were filed by the government agency in charge of natural resources.

The Larijani family are prominent critics of Mr Ahmadinejad.

One of Mr Larijani's brothers, Sadegh, heads the judiciary and another brother, Ali, is the parliament speaker. Javad Larijani leads the judiciary's human-rights council.