|HEAD OF JUDICIARY
The Iranian judiciary has never been independent of political influence. Until early last century it was controlled by the clergy. The system was later secularised, but after the revolution the Supreme Court revoked all previous laws that were deemed un-Islamic. New laws based on Sharia - law derived from Islamic texts and teachings - were introduced soon after.
The judiciary ensures that the Islamic laws are enforced and defines legal policy. It also nominates the six lay members of the Guardian Council. The head of the judiciary, currently Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, is appointed by, and reports to, the Supreme Leader. In recent years, the hardliners have used the judicial system to undermine reforms by imprisoning reformist personalities and journalists and closing down reformist papers.
Shahrudi: Considered close to the president and Supreme Leader