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Exiled group: Raisi death ‘monumental blow’ to Iran

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PARIS – The death of Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash is a major blow to the Islamic republic’s clerical leadership, an exiled opposition group said Monday, predicting a succession of crises.

The People’s Mujahedin of Iran and its political wing the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) have long detested Raisi, accusing him of involvement in the 1988 mass executions of thousands of their members and other dissidents when he was a young prosecutor.

Raisi’s death “represents a monumental and irreparable strategic blow to the mullahs’ supreme leader Ali Khamenei and the entire regime, notorious for its executions and massacres,” NCRI leader Maryam Rajavi said in a statement.

“It will trigger a series of repercussions and crises within theocratic tyranny, which will spur rebellious youths into action,” she said.

The MEK accuses Raisi, as Tehran deputy prosecutor in the late 1980s, of playing a key part in the executions of thousands of political prisoners, mostly suspected members of the opposition group.

Raisi at the time was a member of what opponents call a four-man “Death Committee” that sent convicts to their executions without a shred of due process.

The MEK backed Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in the 1979 revolution that ousted the shah but swiftly went into opposition and was blamed for a swathe of deadly attacks that rocked Iran in the early 1980s.

The MEK has been exiled from Iran since then. It is far from having universal support among the Iranian diaspora but are backed by several high-profile former US and European officials.

Raisi, once seen by some Iranian media outlets as a possible successor to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, flatly denied personal involvement in the 1988 killings while praising the decision to go ahead with the executions.

Amnesty International described the massacres as crimes against humanity in a 2018 report which accused Raisi of being a member of the Tehran “death commission” that dealt with prisoners in Evin prison in Tehran and Gohardasht prison in Karaj.

Rajavi said that “the curse of mothers and those seeking justice for the executed, along with the damnation of the Iranian people and history, mark the legacy of Ebrahim Raisi, the notorious perpetrator of the 1988 massacre of political prisoners.”

The NCRI says some 30,000 prisoners were killed in the massacres although Western rights groups say they cannot put precise numbers and can only say thousands were killed.

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