Death Sentences for Three Protestors Confirmed by Supreme Court in Iran
Unlawful and Cruel Sentences Reflect Increase in Death Sentences in Political Cases
Lawyers’ Last Hope is to Seek Judicial Review, Citing “Serious Flaws” in Rulings
July 13, 2020—The death sentences against three young men for their participation in the November 2019 protests that swept through Iran have been confirmed. The sentences against Amirhossein Moradi, Saeed Tamjidi and Mohammad Rajabi, which were upheld by Iran’s Supreme Court on July 10, 2020, reflect the increasing use of the death penalty in politically motivated cases in the country.“With these unjust death sentences, it is clear that these three young men are being used as victims to burn at the stake in order to intimidate the rest of the population and silence protest,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran.
In an attempted last stand, the lawyers involved in the cases will seek a judicial review to nullify the verdict, CHRI has learned, based on “serious flaws” in the court rulings on the cases.
The cases have involved multiple denials of due process and serious reports of “confessions” extracted under torture.
“The Supreme Court has upheld the sentence issued by the Revolutionary Court,” tweeted attorney Hosein Taj on July 10, 2020. “Despite the evidence and the arguments presented, the side opposed to the death penalty was in the minority. There are serious flaws in form and substance in the initial and final rulings, which we will argue in our filing for a judicial review.”
On February 22, 2020, Moradi (25), Tamjidi (27) and Rajabi (25) were sentenced to death by Judge Abolqaem Salavati of Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court, who is notorious for his harsh sentences in politically motivated cases, on the charge of “participation in vandalism and arson with the intent to confront and engage in war with the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
They were also sentenced to an undisclosed period in prison and flogging for the charge of “armed robbery.”
“We have not been permitted to enter this case but we hope to reverse the sentence through our request for a judicial review,” tweeted Morteza Nili, another lawyer involved in the case.
On July 1, 2020, their legal team published an open letter stating that the case against their clients was based on “confessions that were extracted under aberrant conditions” and noted several irregularities in the judicial procedure.
“As you are aware from looking at the news in recent days, we have repeatedly stated that we have not been permitted to defend [our clients] and that they have no information about their trials,” said the letter.
“We also inform you that Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court has resorted to unfamiliar and unlawful procedures by not entering certain cases in the digital registry and blocked access to the case files, even for the lawyers. The court judge has also been summoning the lawyers and the defendants by phone…
“It is interesting that when lawyers inquire about this case at the Supreme Court’s administrative office, it still has not been registered in the books, even though it has been under review by the Court for a long time…
“In addition, our clients’ relatives have repeatedly denied their children’s involvement with any opposition groups active abroad and the accused have stated that confessions were extracted under aberrant conditions.”
In an interview on July 10, 2020, Babak Paknia, the attorney for Amirhossein Moradi, said one of the Supreme Court judges had voted against the death penalty and asked for further investigations. “Therefore, we are seeking a judicial review and asking for a pardon,” he added.
“Our clients were present in the protests but they absolutely did not set fire to banks and cars and the summary of the case includes their statements to the court denying and rejecting the confessions made during preliminary investigations,” Paknia said.
Following the arrest of Amirhossein Moradi in November 2019 in connection with the protests, fellow defendants Saeed Tamjidi and Mohammad Rajabi went to neighboring Turkey, whose government eventually complied with Iran’s extradition request and returned them to Iran.
A source with knowledge about their case told CHRI on condition of anonymity that all three were handed over to the Intelligence Ministry, which appointed them state-approved lawyers and pushed the case through a particular branch of the Supreme Court “outside legal channels.”
Meanwhile, the families have been under intense pressure not to speak publicly about the case, the source added.
At his weekly press conference on June 30, 2020, Judiciary Spokesman Gholam-Hossein Esmaili accused the three of “connection with specific opposition groups abroad, armed robbery, abduction and public harassment.”
“We differentiate between rioting and protesting, and as you witnessed, there were a few people who caused riots and set fire to gas stations and banks, and even killed people. Society expects punishment for anyone who commits a crime,” Esmaili said.
Paknia denied the charges against his client.
“The Judiciary Spokesman has stated… that Amirhossein Moradi has connections with opposition groups outside the country, as if this is a proven fact,” Paknia told Ensaf News on July 10, 2020.
Moradi was arrested on November 19, 2019 and held for a week in an Intelligence Ministry detention center in Tehran before being transferred to Tehran’s Evin prison for a month. According to Amnesty International, “he was held in prolonged solitary confinement and interrogated without a lawyer present. He has said that he was subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, including beatings, electric shock treatment and an interrogator standing on his chest. He has said he only ‘confessed’ after his interrogators promised to provide him with medical treatment for the injuries he sustained, which they later refused.”
Arrested on December 28, 2019, Rajabi and Tamjidi “have also said they were subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, including through being kicked, beaten with batons and hung upside down while repeatedly beaten on their legs and feet. All were subjected to enforced disappearance for weeks after their arrests and denied access to a lawyer during the investigation phase of their case. Amirhossein Moradi’s ‘confession,’ which was broadcast in a propaganda video on state television days before their trial took place, was used as evidence to convict them. The three men are currently imprisoned in Fashafouyeh prison, in Tehran province,” Amnesty reported.
Rajabi and Tamjidi’s arrest took place after their extradition from Turkey, where they had been staying for a month at a refugee camp.