Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, head of the Iranian Judiciary between 1999 and 2009, is accused of helping to issue verdicts for mass executions in the country. File photo: Isna news agency
BERLIN, Germany – An influential Iranian cleric accused of crimes against humanity is set to leave the hospital where he received treatment in Germany on Thursday. This comes after Iranian rights groups have called for his prosecution.
German newspaper Bild has revealed Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi will leave today due to pressure from the complaints and charges against him. If an arrest warrant is issued the cleric cannot leave Germany according to German law.
Germany’s federal prosecutor’s office is pressing charges against him for crimes against humanity.
"We will continue to examine on a legal basis whether Mr. Shahroudi was guilty of crimes against humanity, regardless of where he is staying," a spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office said on Wednesday, as reported by Reuters.
The Iranian opposition group The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), originally based in France, has urged German lawmakers to help issue an urgent arrest warrant amid reports that the cleric may leave the country on Thursday.
Former Green Party lawmaker Volker Beck and NCRI have both filed complaints against him.
Sharoudi was head of the judiciary of Iran for ten years from 1999. He is accused of helping to issue verdicts of mass executions at the time. He is now the head of an advisory board that reports to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei.
A group of Iranian human rights organizations and activists based outside the country issued a statement on Wednesday that demanded Germany take legal action against Shahroudi.
“Mr. Shahroudi is directly responsible for the appointment of judges and prosecutors that have been responsible for persecutions and systematic violations of fundamental human rights. He must be held accountable," Shirin Ebadi, Iranian Nobel Laureate for peace said.
He has been receiving treatment for a “serious illness” since late December last year, spokesperson for Germany’s foreign ministry said on Monday.
Since then hundreds of opposition members in Germany have protested his stay in front of the hospital and called for his arrest.
Bild, the German newspaper, ran a front page headline on Monday that read “Death judge in Iran, luxury patient in Germany.”
Iran has one of the highest rates of execution in the world with hundreds of executions per year.
This comes as deadly protests hit about 80 sites across Iran for a week starting on December 28. Iranian officials stated that the anti-government protests who demonstrated against unemployment, corruption, and demanded more freedom were over as of Sunday.
Thousands of people, many of whom are youth, have been arrested and at least 22 people died during the unrest.