By Sophie Baron
Grand Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi died on Monday at age 70, in Tehran’s Khatam al-Anbiya hospital, after experiencing intestinal and renal failure.
As head of the Khomeiniist Regime’s judiciary between 1999 and 2009, Shahroudi’s notorious human rights violations and intense repression. The de facto murder of Iranian-Canadian journalist Zahra Kazemi in 2003 and the imprisonment and torture of esteemed journalist/intellectual Siamak Pourzand were among the many horrific cases of torture and executions that occurred under Shahroudi’s watch. Human rights groups have reported that Shahroudi was responsible for at least 2,000 deaths.
A close ally of supreme leader Ali Khamenei, at the time of his death, Shahroudi was chairman of the regime’s Expediency Council, a member of the Guardian Council, and the deputy chairman of the Assembly of Experts. He had been rumored to be a possible successor to Khamenei.
Shahroudi had been suffering from brain cancer for several months. In January of this year, it was revealed that he was secretly undergoing medical treatment in Hanover, Germany.
The German government’s decision to allow Shahroudi into their county sparked outrage among Iranian human rights activists, after his presence in Hanover was discovered by Iranian exiles, and criminal complaints were lodged against him by both Iranian activist groups as well as a member of the German parliament.
German newspaper, Bild, covered the story of Shahroudi fleeing back to Iran before he could be arrested. The video and report was entitled: “Iranian Death-Judge flees clinic in Hanover; canceled cancer treatment.”
His case was seen as another example of a European government placing economic relations with the Khomeiniist regime above human rights and ethical considerations.
Born in Najaf, Iraq, in August 1948, Shahroudi became a follower of Khomeini, when the latter lived in Najaf after being exiled from Iran in the 1960s. An Iraqi citizen, and co-founder of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, Shahroudi only moved to Iran after Khomeini took power in 1979.
Criticism that a foreign-born individual held positions of such power within the regime perpetually hung over his head. At one point, earlier this decade, the regime attempted to promote Shahroudi as a successor to Iraqi Shi’ite leader Ayatollah Sistani, a move that proved unpopular with Iraqis.
Shahroudi was also known for his wealth, his ownership of various import-export businesses, and his embezzlement of state funds. Seda, a magazine associated with the family of the late ayatollah Rafsanjani, exposed some of Shahroudi’s financial dealings in 2014; mentioning that he expropriated parts of the Red Crescent budget for his personal use. Other reports mentioned additional cases of budgetary allocations being redirected to Shahroudi’s foundation under the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The news of the self-titled grand ayatollah’s death inspired impromptu scenes of jubilation among the Iranian people.