He was prepared to prove that his 1964 White Peugeot was the only car he had ever owned. He knew the first question, the shallow and illegal Sharia court would ask him, was about his car. That was their Modas Operandi, they had repeated thousands of times before and the story was the same. So the Judge, who ironically later went on to become the chief justice of the Islamic Republic of Iran, asked him; “where is your Mercedes Benz”. To which my father responded, I have never owned a Mercedes. The Judge, replied harshly, “nonsense! Anyone who worked for the deposed Shah got a Mercedes as a gift”. Despite which, case after case over which this judge and all others had presided over, proved that the myth of anyone receiving a Mercedes as a gift from the Shah was just that. Alongside thousands of other innocent individuals, this and many other Islamic judges, sent innocent men and women to the gallows or committed to life in prison, confiscated their properties and destroyed millions of lives. After a few hours of questioning and flipping his files back and forth, the judge sent him home and called a recess for more investigation to follow into his work. This charade continued for a few days, until such time when his sentence was handed down.
Dad was the Chief of staff to his Excellency, Amir Abbas Hoveyda, the longest serving Prime Minister in Iran’s recorded history. Hoveyda was a man of erudite upbringing. A western educated technocrat whose only fault was perhaps his unbinding allegiance to his Majesty the Shah of Iran. Dad and Hoveyda met and became lifelong friends and ultimately colleagues; in Belgium in the 1940s, in the circle of Abdullah Entezam, another man of sterling reputation. During his tenure alongside Hoveyda, Dad had come into contact with many of the countries elite and either facilitated or helped those who came to see the prime minister with what they needed. When Hoveyda was ousted from his office and was appointed as the Minister of His Majesty’s Imperial court, the customary post relegated to any prime minister as a consolation offering, but nevertheless the second most powerful position in the country, Dad accompanied him as well. In the last year and half of the regime, Dad was responsible as Hoveyda’s chief of Staff to receive and accommodate all the foreign dignitaries who came to visit the Shah. In that context he came into contact with Ronald Reagan, who ironically had made at least a dozen trips to Iran whilst the governor of California, President Carter and many other foreign heads of State who visited his Majesty in those waning years of his reign.
All of the meetings and his work came back in the form of the crimes he supposedly had committed. He was asked, by the judge what secrets had he passed to the Americans when he met all those high ranking officials? Father would calmly describe the protocols present in all civilized societies, and their ruling regimes, to meet and greet heads of state. No person would trade secrets in those meetings. His office was responsible for the well-being of the dignitaries and nothing else.
The judge would have nothing of it, and had no patience to listen to his reasoning. Since he was not afforded an attorney he had to rely on his own arguments and reasoning and alongside his impeccable records he had kept throughout his life. Despite pressures to reveal state secrets alongside all of Hoveyda’s personal secrets, he kept calm and would not. Although I remember that Hoveyda had given him a large chest right before he was jailed by the Shah for him to keep until his release from prison. Luckily the religious court had no knowledge of the Chest. Years later he released it to Hoveyda’s next of kin and no one knows what became of it and even what was in it. Although Father did, and would not reveal it even to us. His other deed, which would have for sure lead him to the gallows which he only revealed decades later, was his hand carrying the now infamous letter which was the spark leading to the Iranian revolution. By the order of the Shah, Hoveyda asked Dad to hand carry a sealed letter, to the then Minister of Information the late Dariush Homayoun, to be published in the Nation’s eminent daily paper. The letter revealed truths about Ayatollah Khomeini’s dubious past and his terrorist activities during the reign of the Shah.
Despite these two secrets not being revealed to the judge, he nevertheless could find nothing against father. Thousands of documents were reviewed, to perhaps find a signature on the “wrong” document or decree which could be used against him. His impeccable probity and a good name had come to serve him well. He was after all a sufi and a dervish and although never a devout Muslim but was respectful of the decrees of Islam.
In the end when the judge handed down the sentence, and in his closing statement mentioned “because he had not accepted the gift of the Mercedes from the Shah, it is the proof of his good character and that his life would be spared!” As was customary with all the rulings of the early years of the Islamic tribunals, even if the life was spared and or life sentence was not handed down, every valuable item of that person was confiscated. In the case of Dad, his pension of 35 years of years of hard work and honest service was denied him and his house was placed under government receivership. Years later the same judge was paid off, perhaps Dad’s only wrong in his years of government service, to release the house of receivership. In an Islamic injustice society, were every Mullah is a crook one has to do what is needed to survive, I suppose.
In the end, the Judge’s rulings were as follows and he was convicted of these four crimes:
1 – Working for the Shah of Iran!
2 – Membership in the Freemasonic organization!
3 – Membership in the philalethes type, “philosophical” society!
4 – Membership in the exclusive Imperial country Club!
Subscribe to The Iranian newsletter
Sign up for our daily newsletter to get the top news stories delivered to your inbox.