Hashemi Rafsanjani responds to parliament rebuke

Hashemi Rafsanjani responds to parliament rebuke

The chairman of Iran's Expediency Council has formally responded to a harsh speech made a week earlier against him in the parliament, Press TV reported.

In a letter, parts of which were read in during an open parliament session on Wednesday, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani reaffirmed his allegiance to the Islamic Republic of Iran and Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.

"He risked his life many times and also financially supported the revolution before its victory in 1979. After the revolution, he served in high posts: he was parliament speaker and then president," read the nine-page document.

The letter signed by the family of the former two-term president comes in response to a tirade by MP Hamid Rasaei against his son Mehdi Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Accused of inciting post-election unrest in 2009, Mehdi Hashemi Rafsanjani arrived in Iran in September after spending three years in the United Kingdom. Hours after his return, he attended a court hearing and was consequently sent to Tehran's Evin prison. He was released on bail two months later.

His sister Fa'ezeh, a former lawmaker, was also arrested in September and is serving a six-month jail term for spreading anti-state propaganda.

Rasaei accused Iran's Judiciary of failing to exercise justice when it came to the family of the influential veteran politician -- a criticism which some said should not have been brought up in the parliament.

"It is for the judiciary to decide whether Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani's children have done anything against the law and it is too early to say the judiciary has been lenient with them because their father is a well-known politician," MP Mehrdad Lahouti said.

"I think although it is our duty as parliamentarians to point out when we see something wrong, it was not right to criticize Mr. Rafsanjani. If someone commits a crime, their families do not become criminals, let alone the fact that the court has not found him (Mehdi Hashemi) guilty yet," noted another MP, Habib Boroumand.

Others, however, argued that the criticism was a positive sign of democracy and the legislative body's independence.

"Lawmakers are free to express their opinions without fear of retribution even if they want to talk about influential figures such as Mr. Hashemi," MP Hossein Garrousi pointed out. "This is what democracy means," he stressed.

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