Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi confirmed dead in helicopter crash

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi confirmed dead in helicopter crash
/ bne IntelliNews
By bne Tehran bureau May 20, 2024

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was killed in a helicopter crash, Iranian state television IRIB reported earlier on May 20. 

The incident occurred in a mountainous region in northwest Iran close to the border with Azerbaijan and Armenia.

“Ebrahim Raisi, our country’s president, died in a helicopter crash in the mountainous area of northwest Iran. Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian was also among the victims,” the agency stated.

In addition to the president and the foreign minister, the helicopter carried the Imam of Tabriz Mohammad Ali al-Hashem, East Azerbaijan Province Governor Malek Rahmati, the helicopter crew, and one security guard.

The incident happened on May 19 afternoon as Raisi returned from a meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. They attended the opening ceremony of the "Khodafarin" and "Giz Galasi" hydroelectric facilities on the Aras River.

It was reported that Raisi’s convoy consisted of three helicopters, two of which reached their destination safely.

The third, carrying Raisi, reportedly landed hard in the Verzeghan area of Iran’s East Azerbaijan Province due to adverse weather conditions.

Ebrahim Raisi, 63, had served as Iran’s president since August 2021. In his campaign message, he pledged to combat corruption and poverty and protect the rights of Iranian citizens.

Previously, from 2019, Raisi was Iran’s chief justice, where he launched a large-scale anti-corruption campaign and initiated legislation to protect women from domestic violence.

Under Iranian law, in the event of the president's death, power passes to the first vice president, and elections must be held within six months.

The current first vice president is conservative politician Mohammad Mokhber he will serve for 50 days.

Public Service Career

Raisi began his career in 1980 in the judicial office of Karaj, a suburb of Tehran, and soon became the city’s prosecutor. From 1982 to 1984, he served as the prosecutor of Hamedan in northwest Iran. In 1985, he was appointed deputy prosecutor of Tehran. In 1988, Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini gave Raisi special authority to resolve religious and legal matters in the provinces of Kermanshah, Semnan, and Lorestan. He became Tehran’s prosecutor in 1989, a position he held until 1994, before leading Iran’s General Inspection Organization for ten years.

From 2004 to 2014, Raisi served as deputy chief of the Supreme Court, managing organizational and administrative affairs. He was Iran’s Attorney General from 2014 to 2016 and then headed the country’s largest Muslim religious foundation, Astan Quds Razavi, from 2016.

In 2019, Raisi became the head of the Supreme Court. As head of the judiciary, he launched a comprehensive anti-corruption campaign and initiated legislation to protect women from domestic violence.

Presidential Elections

Raisi first ran for president in 2017 but lost to incumbent Hassan Rouhani, who was re-elected with 57% of the vote to Raisi’s 38%. He won the presidency on June 18, 2021, securing over 60% of the vote, with Mohsen Rezaei coming in second with 11.5%. Voter turnout was a record low at 48.8%. Raisi took office on August 5.

An ultraconservative, Raisi was a hardliner in relations with the West but supported the restoration of the 2015 nuclear deal, which aimed to limit Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for lifting sanctions. His campaign focused on poverty reduction, anti-corruption measures, and building four million new homes in four years.

Personal Life

Raisi was married to Jamileh Alamolhoda, a PhD in philosophy and writer, whose father is cleric Ahmad Alamolhoda. They had two daughters.

Raisi was the custodian of the Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad and a close associate of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. In November 2019, he was sanctioned by the US and EU for human rights violations.

In 2021, Raisi was listed among Time magazine’s 100 most influential people worldwide.