Iran's hard-line judiciary chief becomes deputy of key panel

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran's official IRNA news agency says the country's newly appointed head of judiciary has also been elected as a deputy chief in the panel known as Assembly of Experts, which can appoint or remove the country's supreme leader.

Tuesday's report says the panel voted 43-35 in favor of hard-line Ebrahim Raisi. Another hard-line cleric, 92-year-old Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, heads the 88-seat assembly. The panel has two deputy chiefs.

Last week, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appointed Raisi as head of the judiciary. Raisi was trounced in the country's 2017 presidential election by incumbent and relatively moderate Hassan Rouhani.

His rise has fanned speculation that Raisi could be named the next supreme leader as hard-liners tighten ranks against Rouhani and the Trump administration unravels Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers.

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