Supreme Court Upholds “Qassameh” Death Sentence for Juvenile Offender
Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – The Iranian Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence for Saleh Shariati, a prisoner in Adel Abad of Shiraz who was convicted of murder as a minor via “Qassameh,” one of Islamic Penal Code’s most tenuous methods of establishing guilt.
In the absence of sufficient evidence, a judge strongly persuaded of the defendant’s guilt can rule for conviction by Qassameh if enough of the victim’s male family members indict the defendant under oath. In Shariati’s case, 57 of the victim’s male family members — none of whom are legally required to have witnessed the crime — sealed his fate with their sworn testimonies.
Authorities reportedly extracted a confession from Shariati under the duress of torture. The Abdorrahman Boroumand Center, a US-based nonprofit dedicated to promoting human rights in Iran, recently published audio of a man identified as Shariati speaking on tape. The man’s voice can be heard recalling five years’ worth of forcibly extracted confessions.
“Had I committed a crime, I wouldn’t have stayed at the same address […],” Shariati’s recording continued. “I would have fled… I’ve been in limbo for five years now. Every day they have a different reason. It’s become unbearable. I’m thinking of harming myself [while I still have the chance].”
Initially barred from seeing his detained son, Shariati’s father believed he had been tortured when, visiting him in prison for the first time, he caught sight of suspect wounds on his son’s body.
The alleged murder took place in 2012 when the body of Rasoul Bahramnian was found at the bottom of a well whose entrance was left unsecured. Shariati, then 16, was the last known person to see Bahramian alive and alleged that he had fallen into the well. Authorities zeroed in on him as a murder suspect sixteen months later.