Zahedan Prisoners to Judiciary Head: We've Been in Limbo for Years
In response to the Head of the Judiciary Branch’s statements admitting to [shortcomings and] the pending status of many cases, several prisoners detained at Zahedan Central Prison wrote a letter to him expressing their lack of trust in [and their skepticism of] his promises. In their letter, they gave several examples of prisoners whose cases have been pending, on average, for more than three years. They stated that the reasons for these protracted proceedings were administrative inefficiency and the judges’ lack of efforts in adjudicating the cases.
According to a report by HRANA News Agency, the news arm of Human Right Activists in Iran, several prisoners detained at Zahedan Central Prison wrote a letter to Ebrahim Raissi, the Head of the Judiciary Branch, and demanded that the cases of those prisoners who have been in limbo be adjudicated.
In a portion of the letter, they expressed mistrust and skepticism about the promises made by this Judiciary official, and emphasized: “Talking is easy, doing is difficult. In your statements, you alluded to the fact that the adjudication of cases has been lengthy [and has dragged on]. Unfortunately, with those words, you opened our wounds, and the high number of pending cases was what immediately came to our minds. In his first years, Mr. Larijani, the former Head of the Judiciary, also made similar [promises and threw out similar] words in the same way, and made many prisoners happy, just like today. But you should know, Mr. Raisi, that a people that has no knowledge of history, is condemned to repeat it.”
After alluding to the cases of several prisoners who have been in limbo, the authors of the letter addressed defenders of prisoners’ rights and asked their assistance in disseminating their problems and concerns [to the public].
What follows is the complete text of the letter, submitted to HRANA for publication:
“Greetings from behind the cold metal bars of prison.
What needs to be said to Mr. Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi about his heartwarming speech to the cameras on Friday, April 26, 2019, is that talking is easy, but doing is hard. In your speech, you alluded to the fact that the adjudication of cases has taken a long time. Unfortunately, with those words, you opened our wounds, and the high number of pending cases was what immediately came to our minds. In his first years in office, Mr. Larijani, the former Head of the Judiciary, also made similar [promises and] uttered similar words, in the same way, and made many prisoners happy, just like today. But you should know, Mr. Raisi, that a people that has no knowledge of history, is condemned to repeat it.
Let us talk about prisoners at Zahedan’s Central Prison who have been in utter limbo for more than at least three years and nothing is being done about their cases. In utter dismay, every time they go to court, either the judge is off that day or the hearing has been postponed to a later date, or judges are transferred from one branch to another. This problem has become routine in recent years at Zahedan Prison, the capital of Sistan and Baluchestan Province, and every new judge that comes in says that he has to read the case file from the very beginning, that he has not been apprised of the case, and some other excuse of that nature. Reading the case file and familiarizing himself with the case takes a new judge one year; then it takes 7 to 9 months to hear the case. In the meantime, it is highly possible for this new judge to be suddenly transferred again, and for the vicious cycle to keep going. In the middle of all this, the defendant remains up in the air for several years.
Before anything, please keep in mind that Zahedan Revolutionary Court, Criminal Branches 101 and 102 have the highest number of cases, and the most important ones, on their dockets and, as admitted by one Branch 101 judge, he hears 500 cases a year.
We would like to point to a number of prisoners who have been in limbo and whose cases have been pending for various reasons:
Prisoner Farhad Arbabi, 25 years old, has been in detention for 5 years on the charge of murder, and during that time, his case has just kept changing hands, going from one branch to another.
Osman Gerdaleh, 27 years old, has been in detention for 6 years on the charge of murder, without a resolution; the interesting thing about his case is that he has been acquitted, but is still in prison.
Mojtaba Kolangi, 26 years old, has also been in detention for around 6 years without any resolution in her case.
Mowlavi Abdorrahim Kuhi and Mowlavi Amilnollah Baluchi have been incarcerated for nearly 4 years on charges of acting against national security, without any resolution.
Prisoners Asghar Sanchuli, Hashem Sanchuli, Esmail Sanchuli, Mohammad Kaykhah, Arash Purineh, Nemat Barahi, and Omid Issari, have all been in detention for nearly 5 and a half years on charges of Moharebeh (“waging war with God”) and armed robbery, without any resolution; as usual, either the judge is on leave or the case gets moved around from one trial court to another.
Eight individuals from the city of Sarbaz’ village of Nassirabad, by the names of Abubakr Bahramzehi, Najiborrahman Raisi, Mosayyeb Vatankhah, Amin Baluchzehi, Abubakr Mollazehi, Edris Balideh, Bashir Balideh, and Mohammad Amerzehi, and four others who were freed 3 months after their arrest, have been in detention for 4 and a half years, and their cases are pending even though bail has been set for them in the amount of 5 billion [Tumans]. The hearings keep getting postponed and no judge is willing to issue a sentence because the truth is that there is no evidence of their guilt.
Abubakr Rostami, Sajjad Baluch, and Bandeh Chakerzehi continue to be in detention after nearly 4 years, without any resolution, even though their death sentence has been overturned by the Supreme Court.
Prisoner Nureddin Kashani has been in prison and in limbo for nearly 6 years on charges of complicity in murder and acting against national security, and there is absolutely no evidence of his guilt. The time span between each court hearing has been one year, and each time, either the judge has been changed or the case has been transferred to another branch. That’s how he’s been in limbo for five and a half years. There are many other prisoners whose cries [of help] are never heard, and so, no one can tend to their problems or at least relieve them from this state of limbo.
That is why we, the prisoners of Zahedan Central Prison, are asking you, the defenders of oppressed prisoners, to relay our cries to the likes of Raisi and Larijani so that they can go from meaningless words and slogans to meaningful understanding [and action].
From a number of Zahedan Central Prison’s prisoners, May 2019:
Hamzeh Rigi, Nureddin Kashani, Bashir Ahmad Hosseinzehi, Abed Bampuri, Hasan Dehvari, Elias Qalandarzehi, Abdolbasset Dahani, Abdolhamid Kiazehi, Abdolsamad Oud, Mohsen Qanbarzehi, Abdollah Qanbarzehi, Alam Qanbarzehi, Abubakr Rostami, Sajjad Baluch, DEnzo Chakerzehi, Mohammad Ali Azar, Davud, Azizi, Mohammad Azizi, Abdolhamid Mirbaluchzehi, Ali Fampuri, Mahmud Kelki, Omid Imani.”