(AFP) – Apr 17, 2010
TEHRAN — A son of influential Iranian cleric and ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani faces arrest on return from abroad, Tehran's prosecutor said in a newspaper report on Saturday.
The threat keeps up the pressure on Iran's opposition movement, with which the former president has been sympathetic since last June's disputed re-election of serving President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Pro-regime hardliners have repeatedly called for the arrest of Mehdi Rafsanjani and his sister Faezeh for their alleged role in inciting mass street protests which rocked Iran in the wake of the vote.
"There were reports about the possibility of Mehdi Hashemi's return to Iran over the (Iranian) New Year holidays," which ran from March 21 to April 2, said Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi.
"So officials in Tehran and Kish airports have been told he should be referred to the Tehran prosecutor's office should he return," Dolatabadi said, quoted in a reformist newspaper, Bahar.
According to Iranian media reports, Mehdi Hashemi has been living in Britain since he left Iran last summer.
The animosity between Ahmadinejad and Rafsanjani, who heads two powerful state bodies, was highlighted during the vote campaign when the hardliner accused Rafsanjani's children of financial corruption on television.
Ahmadinejad also accused Rafsanjani of directing the opposition movement to his government.
Several members of the Rafsanjani family, who openly backed opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi in the June election, were briefly detained during the protests.
A grandson, Hassan Lahooti, was arrested on arrival from Britain during New Year holidays and released on bail a day later, and a former top aide, Hossein Marashi, has been jailed for a year on charges of anti-regime propaganda.
The pragmatic conservative cleric himself refused to openly side with any candidate before the poll.
But Rafsanjani has blasted the authorities over their handling of the post-vote unrest and treatment of opposition supporters, dozens of whom were killed in protests and scores of others jailed.
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