Former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani died on Sunday at the age of 82. Reports indicate that he died of a heart attack in Tehran’s Shohada Hospital. Just before the news broke, current Iranian president Rouhani has been seen at the hospital.
Although he was linked to reformists towards the end of his life, Rafsanjani was involved in some of the most horrific crimes during his earlier career. He had involvement in one of the worst atrocities in the history of the country which saw around 30,000 political prisoners executed in 1988.
Rafsanjani was president of Iran from 1989-1997 and he also headed two of the regime’s most important organisations. One was the Assembly of Experts (a body of religious scholars who nominate the supreme leader) and the other was the Expediency Council (the body that advises the supreme leader).
In 2005 he ran for presidency again, but lost to “hardliner” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
During the past ten years he was often labelled a “moderate” and “pragmatist”. The “Rafsanjani-Rouhani bloc” supported reformers in the parliamentary elections last year. In May this year, Rouhani will run again for the presidency, so the loss of Rafsanjani who had significant influence will be a blow to the campaign.
The NCRI (National Council of Resistance of Iran) see Rafsanjani’s death as the collapse of one pillar of the regime. President-elect of the NCRI Maryam Rajavi said: “Rafsanjani, who had always been the regime’s number two, acted as its balancing factor and played a decisive role in its preservation. Now, the regime will lose its internal and external equilibrium.”
Rajavi noted that Rafsanjani played a major part in the suppression of the Iranian people as well as the export of terrorism. He was also involved in the country’s quest for nuclear weapons.
Argentinian investigators also indicated that Rafsanjani was involved in the 1994 suicide truck bombing of the AMIA Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires. This was one of the most deadly terrorist attacks carried out by Iranians abroad – 85 people died. It is believe that Iran instructed Hezbollah - its Lebanese proxy - to carry out the attack.
It is also believed that Rafsanjani ordered the murders of prominent dissidents abroad during his time as president. This includes the killings of four Iranian-Kurdish dissidents in Berlin restaurant Mykonos in 1992.