Khamenei appoints hardliner as Iran's national police chief

Ahmadreza Radan's career has taken him from ranks of the IRGC to western sanctions for human rights abuses

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei meets the newly appointed national police chief Gen Ahmadreza Radan in Tehran on January 7, 2023. / AFP
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Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday appointed a new national police chief as the government tries to put down nearly four months of protests caused by the death of a woman in morality police custody.

Mr Khamenei, who has the final say in major state policies and is commander-in-chief of Iran's armed forces, appointed Ahmadreza Radan to replace Hossein Ashtari, according to a statement on his official website.

Mr Radan began his career in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Mr Khamenei ordered the police department to “improve its capabilities” as well as “train specialised forces for various security sectors”, it said.

Iran has been gripped by unrest since the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd, on September 16. She had been arrested days earlier for allegedly violating the country's strict dress code for women.

Mr Radan, born in 1963, was deputy police chief from 2008 to 2014 and went on to lead the police's Centre for Strategic Studies. He was replaced as deputy by Mr Ashtari, who was made the force's commander in 2015.

Mr Ashtari's career also began in the IRGC.

Mr Radan was put under sanctions by the US in 2010, and later on by the EU, for “human rights abuses” during protests that followed Iran's contested presidential elections of 2009.

In the statement announcing Mr Radan's appointment, Mr Khamenei expressed “gratitude and satisfaction” with Mr Ashtari's eight-year service.

Iran has sent the police, the IRGC and its affiliated Basij volunteer paramilitary forces to suppress what officials call “riots”.

Human rights groups said more than 500 protesters have been killed and thousands more arrested.

Four people have been executed for protest-related charges crimes of violence, and dozens more have been accused of crimes that carry the death penalty, human rights groups and campaigners said.

Updated: January 08, 2023, 9:28 AM