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BBC News Front page | In Depth | World | Middle East | Iran's changing face
Iran: The stuggle for changeIran: The struggle for change

Who holds the power
Iran: Who holds the power
Head of Judiciary

The Iranian judiciary has never been independent from political influence. Until early last century it was controlled by the clergy. The system was later secularised, but after 1979 - in post-revolutionary Iran - the head of the judiciary became a post appointed by and answerable to the Supreme Leader. The judiciary also has the role of nominating six members of the Council of Guardians.

Until Ayatollah Khomeini’s death in 1989, the judiciary was largely controlled by radicals and left-wingers. But for the past 10 years it has been connected with the conservative camp under its former head, Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi. In order to speed up procedures, he created what are known as general courts, in which the presiding judge is also the prosecutor, and has total power. These courts did away with many of the safeguards for the individual.

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