Senior Iranian cleric and former chief justice Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi Shahrudi has died in Tehran following a long illness, Iranian state media reported on December 24.
Shahrudi, 70, was receiving medical treatment in Germany in January when he returned to Tehran after activists asked German prosecutors to investigate his record of passing death sentences, which they described as a crime against humanity.
He was a close ally of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and had been mentioned as a possible successor.
He headed Iran's Judiciary from 1999 until 2009. Although he implemented some reforms such as banning the death penalty by stoning, human rights activists charge him with allowing the arbitrary arrests of activists and the mistreatment and torture of prisoners.
Khamenei appointed him to head the Expediency Council, a body that mediates disputes between the legislature and the Guardians Council, in 2017.
Shahrudi was born in Najaf, Iraq, to Iranian parents. In the 1970s, he was imprisoned and tortured by the security forces of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.