In a recent development at the Mashhad Revolutionary Court, political prisoner Mohammad-Javad Vafaie Sani has been handed a death sentence. This verdict comes after the Supreme Court had initially overturned the previous death sentence and ordered a retrial at another branch court.
Breaking the news, Babak Paknia, Vafaie’s lawyer, disclosed that despite the Supreme Court’s argument against the death sentence, the court has once again sentenced him to death. The lawyer has vowed to appeal for a retrial within the moratorium period.
According to Paknia, Vafaie has been accused of “spreading corruption on earth” and “arson of property, including the Government Penitentiary Building.” Following this latest ruling, Vafaie was granted a heavy bail, which unfortunately he was unable to afford, leading to his continued detention.
The case has taken a series of twists and turns, with the Supreme Court eventually overturning the previous verdict, leading to the transfer of the case to another branch court.
Vafaie, a 26-year-old boxing coach, was arrested in March of 2020 by security forces in Mashhad city.
HRANA – Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old young woman, was arrested by the morality police for the crime of improper hijab. Her arrest and death in detention fueled nationwide protests in Iran. Protesters came to the streets with the central slogan “Women, Life, Freedom” in protest against the performance, laws, and structure of the regime. The following 486-page report is dedicated to the statistical review, analysis, and summary of the first eighty-two days of the ongoing protests (September 17 to December 7, 2022). In this report, in addition to the geographic analysis and the presentation of maps and charts, the identity of 481 deceased, including 68 children and teenagers, an estimated of 18,242 arrested along with the identity of 3,670 arrested citizens, 605 students and 61 journalists or activists in the field of information is compiled. In addition, the report includes a complete collection of 1988 verified video reports by date and topic. The report examines protests across 1115 documented gatherings in all 31 provinces of the country, including 160 cities and 143 universities.
Mahsa (Zhina) Amini, a young 22-year-old woman from Saqqez, Kurdistan was visiting Tehran, when she was taken into custody on Tuesday, September 13, 2022, by the Morality Police officers at the Haqqani metro station in Tehran. The reason for her arrest: not properly observing the strict Islamic dress code. Mahsa/Zhina was taken to the infamous detention center of Moral Security Police known as Vozara.
Shortly after Mahsa’s arrest, she went into a coma with level three concussion, and her partially alive body was transferred to the intensive care unit of Kasra Hospital. Given the track record of the police and Guidance Patrols in mistreating the arrestees and similar previous incidents, with the believe that Mahsa was beaten during the arrest people were outraged.
Unpersuasive explanations given by the Central Command of the Islamic Republic Police Force (FARAJA) in defense of its actions regarding the death of Mahsa, the past performance of the police force, along with widespread dissatisfaction with the existence of a body called the Moral Security Police, fueled widespread protests in Iran.
The widespread protests sparked at the time Mahsa Amini was announced dead in front of Kasra Hospital on Argentina Street in Tehran, and then quickly spread to the streets despite the intimidating presence of Iran’s security forces. The protests intensified after Mahsa’s burial in a Saqqez cemetery. To the extent that after eighty-two days of nationwide protests between September 17, 2022, to December 7, 2022, they have spread to Iran’s all 31 provinces, 160 cities, and 143 major universities.
The protests did not stay limited to Mahsa’s death, it rather, quickly targeted the Iranian government’s political and ideological foundations. These protests were violently quashed by the anti-riot police and Iran’s militia force (Basij). teargas, pellets, and live ammunition were used in the repression of protestors. This widespread crackdown has led to the death of dozens of people and the wounding of hundreds of protestors.
Despite sever communication restrictions imposed by the Islamic Republic, this report attempts to give a clearer picture of the first 82 days of the protests between September 17, to December 7, 2022. It’s worth mentioning at the time of this report the protests are still ongoing in various forms.
Branch 29 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran sentenced political prisoner Hossein Kheiri to five years in prison. He had been sentenced to death for “enmity against God (Moharebeh), through destruction of public property with the intention to defy the regime.” Once the verdict was revoked by the Supreme Court of Iran in mid-January of this year, the case was handed over to Branch 29. Recently, Mr. Kheiri was relocated from Evin to Rajai Shahr Prison.
According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, the death sentence of Hossein Kheiri was commuted to five years imprisonment.
Seven other defendants of this case, Majid Kahrari, Fardin Asgari, Nima Heidari, Milad Karami, Mahmood Karami, and two others were sentenced to a total of 34 years and 6 months by Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran. The charges against them varied from “assembly and collusion to act against national security” to “enmity against God.”
Earlier, in reaction to the death penalty verdict against his client, attorney Babak Paknia stated that “there are many flaws in this case” and “the charge of Moharebeh does not fit the actions taken by my client.” He had expressed hope that the Supreme Court would reduce the verdict.
In 2020, along with seven other individuals, Hossein Kheiri, age 35, was arrested by security forces in Tehran.
Two political prisoners, Vahid Bani-Amerian and Pooya Ghobadi, serving their sentences in Evin Prison and the Greater Tehran Prison respectively, were each sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in exile in their second legal case.
According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran, headed by Judge Moghayeseh, sentenced Bani-Amerian and Ghobadi. In this new legal case, they were charged with the destruction of public property and advocating for the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (Mujahedin-e-Khalq). According to their lawyer, Babak Paknia, the charge of “enmity against God” was dismissed by the court. The first court session was held in October of this year, but their lawyer asked for a retrial due to defective legal documents and failure to comply procedure.
In May of 2018, Bani-Amerian and Ghobadi were arrested by security forces in Tehran and transferred to Evin Prison. After four months of interrogation, they were sent to the public ward of Evin Prison. In November of 2019, Ghobadi was relocated to The Greater Central Prison while Bani-Amerian remained in Evin Prison.
In their first legal case, each was sentenced to 8 years in prison on charges of “assembly and collusion against national security”, offensive statements against the Supreme Court” and “propaganda against the regime”. For these charges, grounded in Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code, the most severe punishment of 5 years was enforced for each prisoner.
Babak Paknia, the lawyer of political prisoner Hossein Kheiri, announced the issuance of the death sentence to his client on charges of Moharebeh by destroying property with the intention to oppose the regime.
Moharebeh, loosely translated as “waging war against God”, is a pillar of Sharia Law that is typically applied to those suspected of connection to any acts against the state.
According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting the Emtedad news, Paknia has stated, “Our strong evidence shows that the charge of moharebeh does not fit the actions taken by my client.”
He explained that an indictment was issued by the Evin Security Court against eight people, of whom four were accused of moharebeh and the rest were prosecuted on charges of collusion against national security and the like.
“We defended and the court accepted that out of the four, three could not be punished under the guise of moharebeh, but the actions of Hossein Kheiri were recognized as moharebeh and a death sentence was issued for him,” Paknia said. “We will submit our bill of appeal in two weeks to be reconsidered in the Supreme Court.”