Supreme Court Upholds “Qassameh” Death Sentence for Juvenile Offender

Posted on: October 8th, 2018

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.

Death Row Juvenile Offender Stages Hunger Strike from Solitary Confinement

Posted on: September 13th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Bahauldin Ghasemzadeh, a juvenile offender sentenced to be executed in Urmia Prison who was physically assaulted and transferred to a solitary cell on September 11th, has started a hunger strike in protest.

An informed source confirmed that Ghasemzadeh was transferred and beaten for complaining about authorities’ neglect of his and his brothers’ medical needs. First Ghasemzadeh was barred from hospital visits for his ulcers and spinal cord damage. Then, when he wanted to provide care to his paralyzed brother Davoud, who is also on death row, authorities told him “no.”

“Ghasemzadeh was regularly visiting and tending to his disabled brother at the prison clinic,” the source added. “Yesterday, the head of the prison informed him that he is not allowed to do so any more.”

On June 12, 2018, HRANA reported on the deplorable conditions of Bahauldin and Davoud Ghasemzadeh, two imprisoned brothers on death row who both suffer from spinal cord damage. The report stated that the brothers had developed infections in their feet secondary to these injuries, exacerbating their physical ailments. When prison authorities refused to send the two for outside medical care, the brothers requested their executions be carried out as soon as possible.

As previously reported by HRANA, the two were supposed to be transferred to another prison on April 1, 2018. However, as of the date of this report, high ranking prison officials have prevented the transfer.

Prisoners at the Central Prison of Urmia continue to suffer from a lack of medical attention due to a shortage of medical personnel on site. As of March 20, 2018, the beginning of the Iranian calendar, the deaths of at least five prisoners have been attributed to inadequate medical help.

Background on Death Row Prisoners Bahauldin and Davoud Ghasemzadeh

A source close to the Ghasemzadeh family told HRANA of the brothers’ backgrounds and history with authorities.

According to the source, Bahauldin was 17 when him and Davoud were arrested on charges of murdering two individuals in a tribal conflict. When the charges were formalized one year later, Bahauldin absconded from court and fled to Iraqi Kurdistan.

Bahauldin’s spine was injured in a severe beating by authorities upon his coerced return to Urmia.

“Security officers arrested his sister, mother, and other brother, transferring them to the Urmia Prison,” the source said. “They told him his family members wouldn’t be released until he came back. When he did one month later, he was physically assaulted and sustained the damage to his backbone and spinal cord.”

Both Davoud and Bahauldin are currently on death row. Davoud, the elder Ghasemzadeh, is now completely paralyzed and is held at the prison clinic full-time. Their other brother Javad was executed in Urmia in 2013 on a separate murder charge.

Prisoners at the Central Prison of Urmia continue to suffer from a lack of medical attention due to a shortage of medical personnel on site. As of March 20, 2018, the beginning of the Iranian calendar, the deaths of at least five prisoners have been attributed to inadequate medical help.