Religion Islam (Shi'a)
Civil status Married
Education university diploma
Occupation armed/security forces
Affiliation army, former regime
Date of execution February 23, 1979
Location Rudsar, Iran
Mode of execution shooting
Charges Corruption on earth; Fighting against the revolution/blocking the path of God; Murder of persons and/or killing Muslims or/and freedom fighters
About this Case
Captain Monir Taheri is one of 438 victims listed in a March 13, 1980 Amnesty International report. The report lists defendants who were convicted by Revolutionary Tribunals in the period from their inception until 12 August 1979. The list of victims and charges is drawn from sources including translations of indictments, reports of trials carried out by local and foreign media and the bulletins of the official Pars News Agency reports.
The execution was also reported in Kayhan as well as by the Ayandegan daily (February 24, 1979), which published a letter by the family of Captain Taheri on February 25. The letter questioned the validity of the charges against him as reported by Seda va Sima (the Iranian Radio and Television) and called on the authorities to investigate his execution and clear his name.
The Cinema Rex arson referred to below, during which an estimated 377 people burned alive, took place on August 19, 1978 in the city of Abadan. At the time, the authorities attributed the arson to anti-regime religious activists while the opposition blamed the political police SAVAK for setting the Cinema on fire to discredit the Islamist militants.
During the year following the February 1979 Revolution, the Cinema Rex case became a source of tension in Abadan between authorities and victims’ families. The latter accused the revolutionary authorities of hampering the investigation, protecting those responsible, and covering-up the truth. The authorities invoked the successive resignation of those in charge of investigating the case to justify the delay in bringing those responsible to justice. In August 1980, a religious judge was sent to Abadan to hold a trial following an active campaign, including a 4½ month sit-in by some victims’ families in a public office (April to August 1980), in favor of a serious investigation by a special prosecutor and a public trial. The sit-in was forcefully disbanded by the revolutionary guards before the start of the trial.
Twenty six people, including the only survivor of the four-man team that set the movie theater on fire, were put on trial from August 25 to September 4, 1980. The trial (17 sessions) following which Hossein Takializadeh, the arsonist, and 5 other individuals were executed was public. Excerpts of statements by the prosecutor, the religious judge, witnesses, and a number of defendants were published in the Press (See Kayhan and Jomhuri Eslami August 26 to September 5, 1980).
Arrest and detention
Based on the Kayhan report, the defendant was arrested in the town of Mianeh (East Azarbaijan province) two days prior to his trial by the Revolutionary Committee, which transferred him to Rudsar (Gilan province) and called on the prosecutor’s office to investigate him.
Captain Taheri was tried by the Revolutionary Tribunal of Rudsar. The trial took place some time during the 48 hours following his arrest. No other details are available.
Based on the available information from the press, the defendant had been accused of "martyring 3 people in Rudsar", "receiving guerrilla training in the United States", "involvement in the Abadan's Rex Cinema fire", "receiving a Medal of Honor", and "involvement in the torture of political prisoners in Mashhad and Shiraz."
Evidence of guilt
The report of this execution does not contain information regarding the evidence provided against the defendant.
Based on the Kayhan daily report, the defendant denied having been involved in the Abadan’s Rex Cinema fire and stressed the fact that he was in Ahvaz at the time. He also insisted that there were witnesses willing to testify in his favor. Regarding his actions as a police officer in Rudsar, he reportedly admitted guilt but noted that he was getting orders from the head of Rudsar Police.
The day after Captain Taheri’s execution, his family asserted his innocence in an open letter published in the press and called on his fellow officers to come forward and testify. The letter refuted the charge related to the Cinema Rex fire noting that Captain Taheri had never been in Abadan and that there are documents proving that at that time he was on vacation elsewhere. The Medal of Honor, it stressed, was given to him prior to the Rex Cinema fire.
The letter also refuted the allegation regarding the defendant's guerrlla training in the US and referred to the fact that he had never traveled outside Iran. His life, it noted, after finishing high school in Mashhad is documented day by day as follows: Military college in Tehran (3 years), Police Academy training (6 months training as traffic police), and service in Mashhad, Ahvaz, Semnan, and Rudsar. Further, the letter rejected the validity of the accusation of torture in Shiraz and Mashhad. It pointed to the fact that the defendant had never served nor been to Shiraz and had served outside as a traffic police in Mashhad, his hometown, where he was well-known. It urged any political prisoners tortured by Captain Taheri to come forward and testify.
With regard to the charge of killing 3 people in Rudsar, the defendant's family asserted that their own investigation regarding the death of the 3 martyrs showed that in each case there were clashes between security forces and demonstrators during which there was a shoot out between armed demonstrators and police and police forces. In one instance, a police car was attacked by demonstrators and the police officers, including Captain Taheri, were wounded and treated in Rudsar’s Shir va Khorshid hospital. In another instance, demonstrators set on fire a policeman’s house and shot at his family. The person killed in that instance was shot in the leg. He was killed when stomped on by the crowd. Finally, stressing the fact that Captain Taheri was always under the orders of his superiors in Rudsar, they urged members of the security forces to come forward and testify.
With regard to the Cinema Rex fire, additional information was published by the press covering the August 1980 public trial in Abadan. There is no mention of Captain Taheri during the proceedings and in the statements of the defendants and those of the judicial authorities investigating the case. Further, in his defense statement, the principal defendant admitted to having started the fire along with three other religious activists and denied having had connections with the former regime’s security apparatus.
Captain Taheri was convicted by the Revolutionary Tribunal of Rudsar and sentenced to death for murder and “blocking the path of God”. He reportedly requested the Tribunal to allow him to order the firing squad himself, to make sure that his execution is not photographed, and to return his body to his family. The sentence was carried out before the Representative of Ayatollah Khomeini, the Head of Rudsar’s Revolutionary Committee, and families of the martyrs.
The next day, Kayhan published a photograph of Captain Taheri's body after the execution, stating that the authorities respected his will and returned his body to his family in Rasht.
Human rights violations in this case
The legal context
Read about the courts, the judges, and the procedure.
Special courts, known as the Islamic Revolutionary Tribunals, were set up after the February 1979 revolution. Their jurisdiction encompasses a wide array of offences ranging from association with or support of the former regime, promotion of foreign influence, and enmity with the revolution to possession, use or sales of narcotic drugs, murder, and profiteering. In the 1980s, a penal court, presided over by one judge, was created to handle some of the offenses punishable by death, such as theft or adultery. These tribunals’ decisions must be confirmed by a chamber of the Supreme Judicial Council.
Prosecutors and judges are not necessarily jurists. By 1981, the judiciary was purged of judges trained in law schools. They were replaced by seminary graduates and students, as well as by political appointees (an estimated 2000 by 1989). Since by law judges are only required to have a high school diploma and must be faithful to the Islamic Republic’s tenets, new recruits often have little formal training in the law and are chosen because of their political affiliation.
The procedures of these ecclesiastical tribunals fail to meet the minimum guarantees for fair trial as established by international human rights instruments and by sha’ria (the Islamic system of law). In addition to executions ordered by revolutionary tribunals, extra-judicial executions are carried out, targeting dissidents and opposition leaders. In some cases, both inside and outside of Iran, these executions have been traced back to Iranian officials. It is, however, not known if in these particular cases trials are held in absentia.
Sources (Among others): Amnesty International, Law and Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, February 1980; Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights, The Justice System of the Islamic Republic of Iran, 1992; E/CN.4/1989/26 p.14; UNCHR, Resolution 1984/54 , Abolition of Torture - Iran - 1; 28 November 1984; Report on the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran by the Special Representative of the Commission, Mr. Reynaldo Galindo Pohl, 28 January 1987. Amnesty International, A SHOCKED WORLD WATCHES IN DISBELIEF, VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS, 1987-1990. Memoirs of Ayatollah Khalkhali, religious judge and former head of revolutionary tribunals (2001), and Ayatollah Montazeri, dismissed successor to Ayatollah Khomeini (2001). UNCH, E/CN.4/1994/50, Final report on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran prepared by the Special Representative of the Commission on Human Rights, Mr. Reynaldo Galindo Pohl, pursuant to Commission resolution 1993/62 of 10 March 1993 and Economic and Social Council decision 1993/273. E/CN.4/1994/50, 2 February 1994.
Detentions, interrogations, and trials: 1979-1980
Read about the conditions in which individuals were detained, tried and sentenced.
The charges upon which the accused were arraigned were often extremely broad. Defendants generally had no access to legal counsel nor to their file and the evidence against them prior to the trial.
Witnesses might be called, or the statement of persons with relevant information read into the court’s record. Accusation witnesses could come forward the day of the trial to give evidence against the accused, but in most cases, defense witnesses were not allowed in court. There was no automatic right of a defendant to cross-examine witnesses or to know the source of the evidence against him. The defendant had an opportunity to state his side of the matter and attempt to refute what was said against him, but the final decision was solely up to the discretion of the religious judge.
The judgments of the Revolutionary Courts were not subject to appeal. The convicts were generally executed within a few hours of the judgment.
Based on the available information, the following human rights have been violated in this case:
The right to liberty and security of the person. The right not to be subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Article 3; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 9.1.
The right not to be punished for any crime on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offence, under national or international law, at the time it was committed.
UDHR, Article 11.2; ICCPR, Article 15, Article 6.2.
The right to due process
The right to be presumed innocent until found guilty by a competent and impartial tribunal in accordance with law.
ICCPR, Article 14.1 and Article 14.2.
Pre-trial detention rights
The right to know promptly and in detail the nature and cause of the charges against one.
UDHR, Article 9(2); ICCPR, Article 9.2 and Article 14.3.a
The right to counsel of one’s own choosing or the right to legal aid. The right to communicate with one’s attorney in confidence
ICCPR, Article 14.3.b and Article 14.3.d; Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, Article 1, Article 2, Article 5, Article 6, and Article 8.
The right to adequate time and facilities for the preparation of the defense case.
ICCPR, Article 14.3.b.
The right not to be compelled to testify against oneself or to confess to guilt.
ICCPR, Article 14.3.g.>
The right not to be subjected to torture and to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
ICCPR, Article 7; Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Article 1 and Article 2.
The right to a fair and public trial without undue delay.
ICCPR, Article 14.1, Article 14.3.c.
The right to defense through an attorney or legal aid. The right to examine, or have examined, the witnesses against one, and the right to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on one’s behalf under the same conditions as prosecution witnesses.
ICCPR, Article 14.3.d and Article 14.3.e.
The right to have the decision rendered in public.
ICCPR, Article 14.1.
The right not to be tried or punished again for an offence for which one has already been convicted or acquitted.
ICCPR, Article 14.7.
The inherent right to life, of which no one shall be arbitrarily deprived.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Article 3; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 6.1; Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, Article 1.1, Article 1.2.
The right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.
ICCPR, Article 7; Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Article 1 and Article 2.