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Died after the helicopter crash, who was Ebrahim Raisi?

Died after the helicopter crash, who was Ebrahim Raisi?

Ebrahim Raisi, the ultra-conservative Iranian president who was tipped to become the country's next supreme leader, has died aged 63.

A helicopter carrying Raisi and his foreign minister crashed in the mountainous terrain of northwestern Iran on May 19 while returning from a visit to neighboring Azerbaijan, and as a result all members of the board are dead.

Raisi, a longtime figure close to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was previously head of the judiciary when he is suspected of playing a key role in one of the Islamic Republic's darkest chapters.

The hardline cleric will be remembered for overseeing the brutal crackdown on the unprecedented 2022 protests, and toughening of morality laws.

Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands arrested as government forces have cracked down on protests that year, which have posed the biggest challenge in decades to clerical leaders.

Raisi has defended the suppression of the protests and has accused foreign governments and opposition groups of inciting the marches.

Ali Vaez, director of the Iran project at the International Crisis Group, said Rais's presidency has been marked by growing social and political upheaval, and worsening relations with the West.

"His leadership reflects a trend of increasingly isolated politics at the head of Iran, as this is how ultra-conservative control is consolidated," he said.

Raisi was educated in the holy Shiite cities of Qom and Mashhad, where he was born in 1960.

He then studied theology and Islamic jurisprudence under the guidance of Khamenei and other powerful clerics.

Critics of the Islamic Republic consider Rais the "butcher of Tehran" for his alleged role in the mass executions of political prisoners in 1988, when he was Tehran's deputy prosecutor.

In 1989, the year Khamenei became supreme leader, Raisi was appointed chief prosecutor of Tehran.

He held that position until 1994, when he was asked to lead the State Inspectorate Organization, a judicial body, and held that position for 10 years.

The powerful head of the judiciary, Mahmud Hashemi Shahrudi, appointed Raisi as his deputy in 2004.

After a decade in that role, Raisi was appointed Iran's attorney general in 2014.

Two years later Khamenei declared him the guardian of a shrine in Mashhad and one of Iran's richest phonations.

In the 2017 presidential election, Raisi failed to defeat the then-candidate, later president, Hassan Rohani.

Then, Raisi secured 38 percent of the votes.

Two years later, Khamenei was appointed head of Iran's judiciary.

That same year, the United States sanctioned Raisi and eight other people who make up Khamenei's inner circle.

Raisi ran for president for the second time in 2021, in the election process that was considered without an opponent.

Dozens of moderate and pro-reform candidates have been prevented from running.

In that process, the lowest turnout ever recorded in a presidential election since the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

"The ascension of Ebrahim Raisi to the presidency, instead of being investigated for crimes against humanity, for murder, enforced disappearance and torture, is a sad reminder that impunity reigns in Iran," said Agnes Callamard, secretary general of the international organization for human rights, Amnesty International, after Raisi's election victory.

Raisi's victory has consolidated the authority of Iran's hardline officials, who dominate the three main branches of government.

Under the Rais administration, Iran has deepened ties with China and Russia, and worsened relations with the West and Israel, Tehran's biggest enemy.

In the elections held in March of this year, Raisi secured a seat in the Assembly of Experts, the body that elects the supreme leader of the country.

Raisi's death could now complicate Khamenei's plan to replace him once he leaves power.

Raisi left behind his wife Jamileh Alamolhoda and two daughters./ REL

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