Two Iranian Kurds at Imminent Risk of Execution After Convictions Tainted By Torture allegations
Iranian authorities must immediately halt the planned executions of two Iranian ethnic minority Kurds who allege they were tortured into making “confessions”, Amnesty International said today.
Cousins Zaniar Moradi and Loghman Moradi, who could be executed as early as tomorrow, were held for nine months without access to their lawyers and families. They say they “confessed” to murder after being tortured, including by being punched, kicked, and tied to a bed and flogged, as well as being threatened with rape. Their request for a judicial review of their case has been repeatedly ignored by the authorities.
“This is textbook Iranian ‘justice’. Two men are facing imminent execution after being sentenced to death on the basis of ‘confessions’ tainted by torture allegations. Despite the seriousness of the charges against them, their grossly unfair trial lasted just 20 minutes,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“We urge the Iranian authorities to immediately halt any plans to execute these men, to quash their convictions and sentences, and to order a new trial in proceedings that are in line with international fair trial standards. They must also investigate their torture claims and bring anyone found responsible to justice.”
Zaniar Moradi and Loghman Moradi have spent the last eight years on death row after being sentenced to death by public hanging in December 2010. They were moved from the general ward of Raja’i Shahr prison in the city of Karaj, north-west of Tehran, to solitary confinement cells in the same prison on 5 September. The prison authorities telephoned the two men’s families the next day and told them to go to the prison to visit their detained relatives, sparking fears that their executions were imminent.
Zaniar Moradi and Loghman Moradi have both repeatedly denied the accusations against them and pleaded their innocence. They have said that the Ministry of Intelligence has targeted them in retaliation for the activities of Zaniar Moradi’s father, Eghbal Moradi, a well-known political dissident who was assassinated in July 2018. Eghbal Moradi was a former member of the Komala Party of Kurdistan, a banned Iranian Kurdish opposition group based in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, and a member of the Kurdistan Human Rights Association.
Zaniar Moradi and Loghman Moradi were arrested by Ministry of Intelligence officials on 1 August 2009 and 17 October 2009 respectively in the city of Marivan, Kurdistan province, and accused of the murder of the son of a senior cleric which had taken place in Marivan on 4 July 2009.
They were held without access to their families or lawyers by the Ministry of Intelligence for the first nine months of their detention. During this time, they have said they were forced to “confessed” to the murder in front of a video camera after being tortured. Their forced “confessions” were then broadcast on a programme that was aired on the state television channel Press TV in early November 2010, before their trial had even taken place.
In December 2010, after a trial that lasted just 20 minutes, Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran convicted them of “enmity against God” (moharebeh) and murder. Their lawyer has told Amnesty International that the only evidence against them was their forced “confessions”.
Amnesty International also calls on the Iranian authorities to reveal the fate and whereabouts of another Iranian Kurd, Ramin Hossein Panahi, who is similarly on death row in Raja’i Shahr prison and at imminent risk of execution.
Ramin Hossein Panahi, who was sentenced to death on 16 January this year, sewed his lips together and started a hunger strike on 26 August in protest at his death sentence and ill-treatment. He was immediately removed from the prison’s general ward and has not been heard from since.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender, or the method used by the state to kill the prisoner. The death penalty is a violation of the right to life.