World News

Deputy of former Iranian president Ahmadinejad arrested

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iranian authorities detained a former vice-president on Monday on undeclared charges, local news agencies reported, months after another deputy to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was sentenced in a graft scandal.

“Former vice-president Hamid Baghaei had a charge sheet issued against him by the judiciary and the prosecutor summoned him today for questioning,” judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei was quoted as saying by the Fars news agency.

In January, former vice-president Mohammad Reza Rahimi was jailed for five years and ordered to pay 38.5 billion rials ($1.3 million) in connection with a money laundering and embezzlement scheme worth billions of dollars.

Mohseni-Ejei did not reveal whether the case against Baghaei was linked to the embezzlement scandal, saying he was not allowed to specify the charges.

If it emerges that the charges are linked, the case could provide further evidence connecting the embezzlement scandal to senior members of former president Ahmadinejad’s government and put pressure on Ahmadinejad himself.

Rahimi wrote a letter to Ahmadinejad after his arrest, later leaked, that linked Ahmadinejad to the scandal. Ahmadinejad has denied any involvement, and his supporters say accusations against him are politically motivated.

Last year, a billionaire businessman was hanged in connection with the scandal, which was exposed in 2011 and cast a shadow over Ahmadinejad’s presidency, two years before the end of his second term.

Reporting by Sam Wilkin; Editing by Dominic Evans