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Prosecutor Tells Iran Lawmaker To Turn Himself In After Flubbed Arrest

Security officers reportedly arrived to arrest Mahmud Sadeghi at his home in Tehran on November 27. Sadeghi is said to have defied the officers while colleagues and activists came to his defense and gathered outside his home. (file photo)

The chief prosecutor in Tehran says an arrest warrant against a reformist lawmaker who publicly questioned the financial dealings of Iran's chief justice remains legal and valid.

The warning, by Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, came hours after an unsuccessful attempt to detain parliamentarian Mahmud Sadeghi.

"Sadeghi is expected to respect judiciary officials and present himself to authorities," Dolatabadi was quoted by state media as saying on November 28. "Otherwise, officers are required to detain the accused and bring him to court."

Sadeghi this month called on the head of Iran's powerful judiciary, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, to provide bank-account details following claims on social media that Larijani had transferred public funds to dozens of personal accounts.

Larijani denied the allegations as "100 percent lies," saying they were leveled by "seditionists" and "exiled antirevolutionaries" who he said are in contact with "a corrupt section of the reformist movement."

Security officers reportedly arrived to arrest Sadeghi at his home in the capital on November 27, but they were said to have backed down after Sadeghi defied the officers and colleagues and activists came to his defense and gathered outside his home.

Dolatabadi said the case against Sadeghi includes eight private complaints, adding that the lawmaker has been officially summoned.

The semiofficial Fars news agency quoted an "informed source" as saying that the warrant against Sadeghi was issued after private complaints by students who accused the lawmaker of "spreading lies" several months ago.

On Twitter, Sadeghi called the abortive arrest "illegal" and challenged Dolatabadi's claim that Sadeghi had been summoned by the court.

"Despite the comments by the honorable Tehran prosecutor, so far I have received no summons," Sadeghi tweeted on November 29.

A day earlier, Sadeghi vowed via Twitter that "pressure" would not prevent him and other lawmakers from "seeking transparency and fighting corruption in all [Iran's state] institutions."

In a November 29 letter to the Tehran prosecutor, the deputy speaker of parliament, Ali Motahari, criticized the attempt to detain Sadeghi and warned that such moves risked turning parliament into a "useless" body.

Motahari questioned the timing of the effort to arrest Sadeghi, questioning why, if the plaintiffs were serious, authorities responded only "immediately" after the lawmaker's implied criticism of Larijani.

Candidates to Iran's parliament, the Majlis, and many other offices are ruthlessly vetted by the clerically dominated Guardians Council, and ultimate political and religious power lies in the hands of the unelected supreme leader, currently the 77-year-old Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iran's hard-line judiciary is one of the country's most powerful bodies and its head is appointed directly by the supreme leader.

Larijani's brother Ali is currently speaker of the parliament.

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