TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- Iran said Saturday it condemned a former top judiciary official to 31 years in prison for corruption, one of the heaviest sentences against a former official in the Islamic Republic.
Akbar Tabari received the jail term after being convicted of "setting up and heading a bribery network”, Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili told national television.
The high-profile trial of Tabari, who served in a number of senior roles in Iran’s Judiciary, opened in June alongside 21 other defendants.
In its ruling, Tehran’s criminal court ordered Tabari to pay more than 430 billion rials ($1.65 million) in fines. It also ordered the seizure of illegally acquired properties.
Tabari was also found guilty of money-laundering, for which he was sentenced to 12 years and ordered to pay about 600 billion rials ($2.3 million), said Esmaili.
The judiciary spokesman said the verdict could still be appealed and that, based on Iran’s criminal code, Tabari would have to serve only the longest of the jail terms.
Among the properties to be confiscated were four apartments in north Tehran, two business venues in the heart of the capital, and five plots of land in a popular northern tourist resort.
Tabari served as the former deputy head of administrative affairs at the judiciary.
He was later promoted to be the head of executive affairs and then executive deputy from 2009 to 2019.
In March last year, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei appointed Ebrahim Raisi as the new Judiciary chief and called on him to work "against corruption”.
According to media reports, Raisi sacked Tabari "eight days after taking office” without providing a reason. Tabari’s arrest was confirmed by the Judiciary on July 2019.
Last week, Raisi thanked the Leader for agreeing to extend the mandate of special tribunals set up to try economic corruption cases.
The courts were established in 2018 on the request of former Judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani in the face of the special conditions which he described as "an economic war.”
Ever since, the Islamic Republic has successfully tracked and hunted down many heavy-weight corrupters, who had monopolized profit across key economic sectors.
Last Sunday, various Iranian media outlets reported that the Leader had agreed to extend the mandate of the trials after being asked by the new Judiciary chief.
Two other suspects on trial, Farhad Mashayekh Fereydoun and Rasool Danialzadeh, received sentences of 15 years each.
Two former judges, Bijan Qasemzadeh and Hamidreza Alizadeh, were also convicted of peddling influence and receiving bribes. They were each sentenced to 10 years’ jail.
According to Esmaili, the trial is still ongoing for some of the other suspects.
The proceedings were broadcast live on national television and widely covered in local media. The case found a dramatic turn following the death of a fugitive judge also implicated in the case.
Gholamreza Mansouri, 52, had fled Iran last year, first going to Germany and then moving to Romania. He plunged from a top floor of his hotel in Bucharest with his death considered to be a suicide. Mansouri was wanted over receiving a 500,000-euro ($592,000) bribe.
Meanwhile, the chief justice of Fars province Kazem Mousavi said the retaliation sentence against Navid Afkari, the killer of Hassan Turkman, was carried out Saturday morning in Adelabad prison in Shiraz.”
Afkari had been found guilty of the "voluntary homicide” of Turkman, a water department worker in Shiraz, who was stabbed to death during foreign-backed riots on August 2, 2018.