Supreme Court of Iran Rejects Retrial Request of Jewish Death-Row Inmate Arvin Ghahremani

The Supreme Court of Iran has dismissed the retrial request of Arvin Ghahremani (Nathanael), a 20-year-old Iranian Jew sentenced to death for his involvement in a fatal altercation that resulted in the death of one man named Amir Shokri. Ghahremani, who is currently held in Dizelabad Prison in Kermanshah, was rapidly tried and sentenced to death.

Last week, his legal team was informed of the Supreme Court’s decision to reject the retrial application. Amidst growing concerns, several public figures, including prominent artists, are trying to petition the victim’s family for forgiveness, which could potentially halt the execution.

Ghahremani’s case highlights the additional challenges faced by members of religious minorities under Iran’s legal system.

A video recently circulated on social media features Ghahremani’s mother appealing for public support to stop the execution. She pleads, “Pray for Arvin to come back home again.” Dr. Homayoun Sameyah Najafabadi, head of Iran’s Jewish Committee, confirmed that attempts to meet with the victim’s family and the newly appointed Imam of Friday Prayer in Kermanshah, Sheikh Mohammad-Hassan Rahimian, have been rejected. Efforts by the MP from Natanz to mediate were also fruitless, and proposals such as constructing a school in the victim’s name have been declined.

This case has heightened concerns within Iran’s Jewish community. Human rights activists argue that the retribution laws and their uneven application between Muslims and non-Muslims reflect systemic discrimination against religious minorities in Iran. These laws, rooted in religious ideology, often disadvantage non-Muslim citizens.

While Qisas mandates capital punishment if a non-Muslim kills a Muslim, the reverse scenario does not hold—a Muslim who kills a non-Muslim is only obliged to pay blood money. This legal disparity is a significant barrier to a fair trial and the achievement of civil rights in Iran.

The ongoing enforcement of unjust penalties for the murder of non-Muslims has led to numerous extrajudicial killings, especially of Iran’s Baha’i community, by extremist elements.

Mohammad Ghobadloo Executed in Ghezel Hesar Prison, Karaj

Mizan, the judiciary’s news agency, has reported the execution of Mohammad Ghobadloo, a detainee connected to the 2022 nationwide protests, in Ghezel Hesar Prison, Karaj.

Amidst growing controversy, Amir Raisian, Ghobadloo’s lawyer, publicly disclosed yesterday that despite the Supreme Court overturning the death sentence, he was informed of the imminent execution scheduled for Tuesday, January 23.

Raisian clarified, “The death sentence (Qisas or reprisal) had been overturned by the Supreme Court, and the case was transferred to another branch (Branch 5 of the Criminal Court of Tehran), awaiting the results of forensic re-examinations for the verdict. However, after several months, the case was unexpectedly reassigned to Branch 39 following a Supreme Court directive. Now, just hours before the scheduled execution, we have been notified of this sudden development.”

Raisian strongly denounced the execution, asserting, “This execution lacks any legal basis and should be considered a case of manslaughter.”

The execution of Ghobadloo has triggered widespread condemnation on Farsi-speaking social media platforms. Concurrently, Mizan released a video featuring Ghobadloo’s coerced confessions. The judiciary’s news agency has dismissed claims that Ghobadloo suffered from major mental disorders, including bipolar disorders.

Initially sentenced to death by Branch 15 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court, presided over by Judge Abolghasem Salavati, Ghobadloo faced charges such as “spreading corruption on earth through crimes against the physical integrity of people.” Additional allegations included “destruction of public property” and “acting against national security by causing unrest.”

During the court proceedings, Ghobadloo emphasized “being influenced by the psychological consequences resulting from the non-use of his medications on the night of the incident.” Simultaneously, the prison doctor of the Great Tehran Penitentiary and the prison supervisor confirmed the mentally precarious condition of the accused, a factor overlooked by forensic experts during the trial.

Death Sentence and Imprisonment for Officers in Mohammad Jameh Bozorg Murder Case

Emtedad News reports that a security police officer has been sentenced to death for the murder of Mohammad Jameh Bozorg during the 2022 nationwide protests. Three other officers received sentences of imprisonment and fines.

According to the verdict from branch 5 of Tehran’s Military Court, the officer who shot and committed the murder has been sentenced to death under the Islamic rules of Qisas (reprisal).

Payam Derafshan, the lawyer for the Bozorg family, stated, “The second-row defendant, a field commander and team leader, responsible for the illegal violent home invasion, has been sentenced to imprisonment. The court ruled without considering any reduction in punishment. The third-row defendant, showing remorse and having a good record, received a fine.”

Derafshan added, “The tenth defendant, charged with spreading false news and inciting overreaction among the forces, was sentenced to imprisonment. Mitigating sentence regulations were not deemed applicable by the court. The eleventh defendant, who assisted in disseminating fake news, was acquitted due to lack of proof of intent.”

Other defendants were acquitted of the charge of an illegal break-in as they were under the belief that a warrant had been issued.

Regarding the unit commander’s case, Derafshan mentioned, “Negligence and failure to follow regulations led to the tragedy. The unit commander’s complete negligence, from uniform provision to recruiting untrained forces with criminal records, arming them, facilitating midnight operations without judicial warrants, and violating citizens’ rights, is evident.”

Derafshan cited Article 54 of the Penal Code for Armed Forces Crimes, stating, “Whenever carelessness, negligence, or failure to observe regulations by commanders and officials of various ranks of the armed forces lead to loss of life or bodily harm, the perpetrator shall be sentenced to imprisonment from one to three years.”

This case underscores the crucial role of adhering to laws and regulations in preventing tragedies and safeguarding citizens’ rights. Mohammad Jameh Bozorg, a carpet retailer in Malard, Karaj, was murdered in his home by security law enforcement forces during the 2022 nationwide protests on September 25, 2022.

Report: Prisoners’ Families Demonstrate as Executions Surge

Since May 2022, the number of executions, especially of prisoners convicted of drug-related crimes has significantly increased. Since the judiciary carries out the executions without prior notice, the new wave has raised concerns among the prisoners’ families, who organized protests in Tehran and Karaj during the past six days. Although the protests have been peaceful, the police have arrested several individuals.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, from May 22 to June 21, the number of executions spiked to 99 cases, four times more than the months before. Executions have remained at this high rate since, causing panic among death row prisoners and their families.

During this period, half of the executed inmates had been convicted of drug-related offences. Unlike murder cases in which the convict is at the mercy of the victim’s family for judgment, the execution of inmates convicted of drug-related crimes is decided by the judicial authorities’ decision.

The families have been gathering peacefully for six consecutive days in Tehran and Karaj. On September 11, the protest turned violent and 30 people were arrested, of which eight currently are kept in detention.

As the figure below illustrates, the judicial authorities have not been transparent as only 39% of the executions have been reported by official sources and media outlets inside Iran so far.

From March 21, 2022 (the beginning of the Iranian year) to September 11, 2022, the Judicial authorities have executed a total of 306 people, including 267 men, 30 women and 30 gender-unspecified individuals. Four of these individuals were under the age of 18 at the time of the arrest. One Pakistani and one Afghan National are among these individuals.

The figure below illustrates the breakdown of executions by capital offence.

Of these convictions, 151 people had been convicted of murder (Qisas or reprisal), 130 of drug-related crimes, 12 of rape, and two of security charges. The charges against 11 individuals remain unknown.

Geographically, 56 executions have been carried out in Sistan and Baluchestan Province. Fars Province ranks second with 28 executions.

In the above-mentioned period, the authorities have sentenced 42 defendants to the death penalty.

One prisoner’s spouse expressed to HRANA that the number of executions has increased exponentially in recent weeks and the prisoners live in fear of imminent execution. 

A prisoner who is currently on furlough said the prisoners are fearful and worried about the prospects of speedy Judgements. 

According to the head of State prisons and the Security and Corrective Measures Organization, 45% of prisoners in Iran are jailed for drug-related offences.

Since under international law, drug smuggling does not fall into the category of violent crimes,  the government has been criticized by the Human Rights Organization and the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran for the execution of drug-related offenders.

In 2017, the former prosecutor of Tehran, Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, announced the reform in drug-related crime laws and promised the reduction of the death sentences and executions. According to the recent report from the Statistics and Publication Center of the Human Rights Activists in Iran (SPC-HRA), drug-related executions have been reduced, but the number of recent executions is alarming. 

According to the SPC-HRA report, between January 1, 2021, and December 20 2021, at least 299 individuals, including four juvenile offenders were executed. 85 others were sentenced to death. 

The video reportage is a compilation of  26 videos of recent protests.

Ali-P Executed in Vakilabad Prison in Mashhad on Charge of Murder

At dawn on Monday, July 5, a prisoner who had previously been sentenced to death on a charge of murder was executed in Vakilabad Prison in Mashhad.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting the Khorasan newspaper, the report identifies the prisoner as Ali-P, 45, who killed his wife in August 2009.

Iran ranks first in the world in citizen executions per capita, according to international organizations. The Statistics and Publication Center of the Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA) reported that between January 1 and December 20 of 2020, at least 236 citizens were executed.

One of these citizens was executed publicly, and two were juvenile offenders. An additional 95 citizens were sentenced to death.

According to the report, more than 72% of executions in Iran are not reported by the government or the judiciary. Human rights organizations call these “secret executions”.

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Mohammad Hassan Taheri Haghighi Executed for Murder in Adelabad Prison in Shiraz

On Sunday, July 11, a prisoner who had previously been sentenced to death for murder was executed in Adelabad Prison in Shiraz.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, the prisoner’s identity has been verified as “Mohammad Hassan Taheri Haghighi, son of Hassan, 33 years old, from Shiraz”.

Mr. Taheri Haghighi had been in Adelabad Prison in Shiraz since 2019.

Iran ranks first in the world in citizen executions per capita, according to international organizations. The Statistics and Publication Center of the Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA) reported that between January 1 and December 20 of 2020, at least 236 citizens were executed.

One of these citizens was executed publicly, and two were juvenile offenders. An additional 95 citizens were sentenced to death.

According to the report, more than 72% of executions in Iran are not reported by the government or the judiciary. Human rights organizations call these “secret executions”.

Taheri Haghighi’s execution has not been announced by Iranian media or official sources as of this writing.

Two Death Sentences Issued in Tehran

Two death sentences were recently issued in Tehran.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting Shargh Newspaper, a man was sentenced to death for the murder of a police officer he committed in April, 2004. Mehdi was sentenced under Qisas (“eye-for-an-eye”),  a pillar of Islamic sharia law .

It took 14 years following the incident until police officers discovered that Mehdi had started a secret new life in the city of Bonab and arrested him. Now, three years after his arrest, Mehdi has been sentenced to death, five years in prison, and 50 lashes.

According to HRANA, quoting Shahrvand Newspaper, another man was sentenced to death in Tehran on a charge of Moharebeh. Moharebeh, loosely translated as “waging war against God”, is a pillar of Islamic sharia law that is typically applied to those suspected of connection to any acts against the state.

Per the report, in late May 2017, detectives from the capital’s police station began investigating the case, and several men were arrested for extortion.

The case was sent from the Theft Court to the Revolutionary Court after a confession was obtained from the accused. Finally, the judge sentenced the leader of the extortionists to death.

Iran ranks first in the world in citizen executions per capita, according to international organizations. The Statistics and Publication Center of the Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA) reported that between January 1st and December 20th of 2020, at least 236 citizens were executed. One of these citizens was executed publicly, and two were juvenile offenders. An additional 95 citizens were sentenced to death.

Idris Gergij and Hashem Torabi Executed in Zahedan Prison

Idris Gergij and Hashem Torabi, two inmates who were previously sentenced to death for murder, were executed last week at Zahedan Prison.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Idris Gergij, who had previously been sentenced to death under the “Qisas” (an eye for an eye) principle of Islamic sharia law, was executed on Monday, July 5. On June 26, 33-year-old Hashem Torabi was executed after having been held in Zahedan Prison for about 7 years.

Iran ranks first in the world in citizen executions per capita, according to international organizations. The Statistics and Publication Center of the Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA) reported that between January 1 and December 20 of last year, at least 236 citizens were executed.

One of these citizens was executed publicly, and two were juvenile offenders. An additional 95 citizens were sentenced to death.

According to the report, more than 72% of executions in Iran are not reported by the government or the judiciary. Human rights organizations call these “secret executions”.

The execution of Gergij and Torabi has not been announced by Iranian media or official sources as of this writing.

Habib Rezaei Executed on Charge of Murder in Salmas Prison

At dawn on Monday, June 21, Habib Rezaei was executed in Salmas Prison in West Azerbaijan Province.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting Kurdpa, Salmas native Habib Rezaei had been previously sentenced to death on a charge of murder under the Qisas (loosely translated as “eye-for-an-eye”) principle of Shariah Law.

The report quotes an informed source as saying, “Three years ago, Mr. Rezaei killed a man in a personal altercation, and then he was sentenced to death by the judiciary”.

According to international organizations, Iran ranks first in the world in citizen executions per-capita. The Statistics and Publication Center of the Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI) reported that between January 1st and  December 20th of 2020, at least 236 citizens were executed. One of these citizens was executed publicly, and two were juvenile offenders. An additional 95 citizens were sentenced to death.

According to the report, more than 72% of executions in Iran are not reported by the government or the judiciary. Human rights organizations call these “secret executions.”

Rezaei’s execution has not been announced by Iranian media or official sources at the time of this writing.

 

Man Sentenced to Death in Tehran Under Qisas (Eye-for-an-Eye) Principle of Shariah Law

A man was recently sentenced to death in Tehran under the “Qisas” (loosely translated as eye-for-an-eye) principle of Shariah Law.

According HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting the Javaonline News, a defendant was sentenced to death on a charge of murder by the criminal court in Tehran province.

The victim’s wife, who orchestrated the killing, was also sentenced to a prison time of 15 years.

According to international organizations, Iran ranks first in the world in citizen executions per-capita. The Statistics and Publication Center of the Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI) reported that between January 1st and  December 20th of 2020, at least 236 citizens were executed. One of these citizens was executed publicly, and two were juvenile offenders. An additional 95 citizens were sentenced to death.