Political Prisoner Shahriar Bayat Sentenced to Death for Alleged Insult to Prophet of Islam

Shahriar Bayat, a 64-year-old political prisoner currently held in Evin Prison, has been sentenced to death by the Tehran Criminal Court for allegedly “insulting the prophet of Islam.”

Confirming this conviction, a source close to Bayat’s family informed HRANA that Bayat received this sentence on March 24, 2024, the final day of his furlough from Evin Prison. This verdict was issued by Branch 13 of the Tehran Criminal Court. According to the source, Bayat’s wife, Nahid, is not in good health to inquire about her husband’s legal case.

Bayat faces legal proceedings in both the Criminal and Revolutionary Courts. Reports obtained by HRANA indicate that the majority of the board of judges in the Criminal Court convicted Bayat of “insulting the prophet of Islam, Shia Imams, and other Islamic sanctities through the publication of pictures and posts on social media.”

This verdict contradicts the earlier decision by a minority panel, which commuted Bayat’s sentence to six months in prison after he expressed remorse. The verdict can be appealed within 20 days of its issuance.

Notably, the Shahriar Public and Revolutionary Court initially had jurisdiction over this legal case and closed this case. However, due to the insistence of the Shahriar prosecutor, the court transferred the case to the Tehran Criminal Court.

Shahriar Bayat’s legal troubles began on September 25, 2022, when he was arrested by security forces during nationwide protests at his residence in the city of Shahriar and subsequently detained in the Great Tehran Penitentiary. He was later transferred to Evin Prison.

On March 1, 2023, the Shahriar Revolutionary Court sentenced Bayat to a total of 18 years in prison for various charges including “forming illegal groups to act against national security,” “assembly and collusion to act against national security,” “insulting the former and current Supreme Leader of Iran,” and “propaganda against the regime.” Pursuant to Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code, which mandates the enforcement of the harshest punishment in cases of multiple charges, Bayat’s sentence was initially ten years, later reduced to eight years and six months following his request for a reduction in punishment.

In July-August 2023, in a letter addressed to the judiciary, Bayat wrote about his imprisonment at the age of 63, emphasizing his lack of prior political activism and attributing his incarceration solely to content found on his cell phone, much of which he claimed was commonplace on the internet. He also highlighted his denial of medical care for digestive diseases during his detention in the Great Tehran Penitentiary.

Prisoners in the Great Tehran Penitentiary Facing Delay and Difficulties in Receiving Medical Care

The Great Tehran Penitentiary officials regularly delay the issuance of permits for medical treatment, putting prisoners’ health at risk. This report sheds light on the violation of prisoners’ health-related rights in this prison and the negative impacts on inmates’ health conditions.

An inmate, recently freed from this prison, explained to HRANA the lengthy process of requesting a permit for medical care: “to receive a permit for medical care, the prison infirmary physician has to deliver a request letter to the Judgement Enforcement Unit. If approved, this unit sends a request letter to Judicial Deputy and the latter to the assistant prosecutor. This process takes a long time resulting in the exacerbation of inmates’ health condition and subsequent denial of medical treatment.”

“In addition to the long process, sometimes the request letters were missing, which frequently happens during the correspondence among prison officials,” another inmate stated.

Asadollah Hadi, Davood Razavi, Shahriar Bayat and Zartosht Ahmadi Ragheb are among the inmates who suffered medical issues due to the prison officials’ delays and impediments.

According to reports obtained by HRANA, in recent days, political prisoner Asadollah Hadi was taken to the prison infirmary. Despite that, only after many twists and turns did the prison officials agree to dispatch him to a hospital outside the prison. Hadi has 60% physical disability and underwent heart surgeries during the last few years. Nonetheless, prison officials still delay medical treatments.

Another inmate, 20-year-old Amir-Hossein Ghena’atgar, who was arrested during the nationwide protests, is in poor health condition and has been denied medical care. In this regard, an informed source told HRANA, “he has been injured in eyes, neck, arm and chest by pellet guns. Despite having an infection from the pellets still in his body, he has been denied adequate medical care.”

In 2022, the Department of Statistics of Human Rights Activists in Iran registered 4,322 deprivation of medical care and 20 deaths due to illness.

According to Articles 102 and 113 of the Executive Regulations of the Iranian Prisons Organization, the prison infirmary is obliged to perform the medical examination of prisoners at least once a month, which in practice happens rarely. Also, in a case where medical treatment is not possible inside prison, with permission from the head of the prison and supervising judge, the inmate can be dispatched to a hospital as soon as possible. The rules unfortunately do not exempt emergency cases from the judge’s permission, causing unnecessary delays and jeopardizing the inmate’s lives.