TEHRAN -- Authorities arrested a former top Iranian prosecutor who was once labeled a “serial human rights abuser” and linked to the deaths in custody of three protesters following the nation’s disputed 2009 elections, according to news accounts here.
Officials announced the arrest late Monday but initially gave no reason for the detention of Saeed Mortazavi, a contentious figure in Iranian politics and a close ally of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The president denounced the arrest and hinted that his political rivals were behind it.
On Tuesday, the semi-official Fars News Agency reported that Mortazavi was charged with misappropriating public property.
Two years ago, an Iranian parliamentary panel found that Mortazavi, then a top Tehran prosecutor, was responsible for the ill treatment of prisoners following the controversial 2009 elections, including the deaths of three detainees at the now-shuttered Kahrizak prison. Ahmadinejad was reelected in 2009 amid allegations of fraud, triggering massive protests that were ultimately put down by authorities.
In a report in January 2010, Human Rights Watch, the New York-based watchdog group, labeled Mortazavi “a serial human rights abuser” and urged Iranian authorities to conduct a broad inquiry into his record.