Iran ex-prosecutor held as power struggle flares

Updated 06 February 2013
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Iran ex-prosecutor held as power struggle flares

DUBAI: A former Iranian prosecutor linked to the deaths of anti-government protesters was arrested yesterday as a public showdown between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his big political rival, Ali Larijani, gathers pace. Tensions burst into the open on Sunday when Parliament dismissed Ahmadinejad's labor minister for hiring the prosecutor, Saeed Mortazavi, and Ahmadinejad tried to protect the minister by taking the floor to hurl corruption allegations at the family of Larijani, the parliamentary speaker.
Ahmadinejad is fighting to remain relevant as his second and last term in office draws to a close. With Parliament and Larijani, a possible candidate in June's presidential election, becoming more assertive, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called for unity to little avail.
"The Tehran prosecutor announced on Monday night that Saeed Mortazavi has been arrested," read a one-line statement from the prosecutor's office, giving no reason for the arrest. Mortazavi has played a central role in stamping out dissent since Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election in 2009, and has been described by Human Rights Watch as a "serial human rights abuser".
Before leaving Tehran's Mehrabad Airport for Cairo, Ahmadinejad struck a defiant tone, and said he would investigate the case on his return.
"The judiciary is not a special family organization," he told reporters, according to the state news agency IRNA. The head of Iran's judiciary is Sadeq Larijani, the speaker's brother.
"I don't know how it has happened that one person has committed an infraction, and another person is arrested," Ahmadinejad said. "Instead of going after the violator, they go after the person who has announced the violation, and this is very ugly."


Nearly a year since fall of Iraq’s Mosul, hunt for bodies goes on

Updated 21 May 2018
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Nearly a year since fall of Iraq’s Mosul, hunt for bodies goes on

  • “The operations will continue until all the corpses are extracted” from the heart of the city
  • The rubble makes it impossible to bring in heavy construction machinery

MOSUL: Atop an enormous mound of rubble under blistering sun in Iraq’s second city Mosul, fire crews and police chip away at a grim but vital task.
Some 10 months after dislodging the Daesh group, they are still extracting bodies from the ruins of the shattered Old City.
“Over three days, 763 bodies have been pulled from the rubble and buried,” Lt. Col. Rabie Ibrahim says.
Despite the overpowering stench, the men work relentlessly, braving unexploded munitions in an area devastated by the nine-month battle.
“The operations will continue until all the corpses are extracted” from the heart of the city, Ibrahim says.
Civilians’ bodies that can be identified are handed to their families, while the remains of Daesh combatants are buried in a mass grave on the western outskirts of Mosul.
Some of the putrefied corpses are sent to Nineveh province’s health services, Ibrahim adds.
The workers, their faces covered with masks or scarves, move with great caution.
The bodies of jihadists are sometimes still clad in suicide belts.
Grenades, homemade bombs and other crude contraptions left by Daesh fighters during their retreat to Syria pose a constant threat.
The improvised boobytraps are hidden under multiple layers and obstacles — the rubble of collapsed homes, disemboweled furniture and uprooted trees, in some places subsiding into the waters of the Tigris that meander murkily below.
Where a maze of cobbled streets was once lined with homes and market stalls, there is now a formless mess populated by stray animals, insects and disease.
The destruction is so great that some residents cannot pinpoint the remnants of their homes or even their street as they try to direct salvage workers to the remains of loved ones.
The rubble makes it impossible to bring in heavy construction machinery, says General Hossam Khalil, who leads Nineveh province’s civil defense force.
His men therefore have to rely on smaller vehicles, but Mosul “only has a few,” he says.
There is a pressure to work as quickly as conditions will allow: residents are exhausted by three years of Daesh rule, nine months of brutal urban combat and now the slow pace of reconstruction.
“But it’s impossible, with this stench, this pollution and the epidemics they can cause,” says Othmane Saad, an unemployed 40-year-old whose home in the old city is entirely destroyed.
Another resident, 33-year-old Abu Adel, wants the authorities “to clear all the corpses as quickly as possible” and to “compensate residents so they can rebuild, then establish public services.”
But the task is titanic.
Since Mosul was retaken in July, “2,838 bodies, including 600 Daesh members, have been retrieved from the rubble,” governor Naufel Sultane says.
Even after the corpses are taken away and buried, they leave harmful bacteria which the Tigris can carry far beyond the old city.
The authorities insist drinking water stations are unaffected and that they pump water from the Tigris’ central depths, avoiding the banks and other shallows.
But gastroenterologist Ahmed Ibrahim advises caution.
“You must boil water before drinking it and don’t use river water, either for bathing or washing,” he says.
Birds and fish “can carry typhus, bilharzia and gastroenteritis,” he adds.