Iran: Khamenei Pardons “Butcher of Press” Responsible for Torture, Rape & Murder of Dissidents


By Mansoureh Galestan

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has pardoned the man responsible for the torture, rape and murder of thousands of Iranian dissidents in yet another example of the repressive Regime’s treatment of those who dare to oppose them.

Former Tehran Prosecutor General Saied Mortazavi, who is more commonly known as the “Butcher of the Press”, was formally charged as the “main culprit” but was never sentenced in the Kahrizak Detention Centre scandal, where many protesters challenging the 2009 Iranian elections were tortured, raped and killed. In fact, little is known about the closed-door trial that he reportedly went through.

According to Reports, Mortazavi is the one behind the rape, torture, and death of Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi in 2003, when she visited Iran to photograph demonstrations with the full permission of the Regime.

The Iranian parliament issued a report later that same year in which they accused Mortazavi of trying to cover up Kazemi’s death and forcing witnesses to alter their accounts of the events, and to this day, the Canadian government maintains that Mortazavi ordered Kazemi’s arrest, supervised her torture, and was present when she was killed.

Zahra Kazemi is far from the only journalist targeted by Mortazavi. Reporters Without Borders explains that over 250 journalists were jailed under his watch, while many more had been summoned. In 2005, journalists who testified about being tortured on the orders of Mortazavi began receiving death threats. For all of this and more, the European Union sanctioned Mortazavi as a violator of human rights.

Despite all this, Mortazavi has never been charged or sentenced for the torture, rape, or murder of dissidents and journalists. Instead, he was charged with social security offences dating from the time he was the Head of the Social Security Organization and sentenced to 70 lashes for “seizing public property” and another 65 lashes for “neglect of duty and wasting the property of the state.” He was, however, pardoned on both charges by Khamenei, according to the state-run ISNA News Agency.

It is pathetic that Mortazavi has been charged only for “social security offences” and “seizing public property” albeit with no punishment, but the Iranian Regime has a long documented history of protecting those who abuse human rights. How else could one explain that some of the perpetrators of the 1988 massacre of 30,000 Iranian political prisoners are still holding high-ranking positions in the regime including the recently appointed Head of the Judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi, who served on Tehran’s “Death Committee” during the 1988 massacre?