Shot Protester Prosecuted and convicted After his Death: Ezzat Ebrahimnejad
On Sunday, July 22nd 2001, the content of the Branch 3 Court Ruling regarding the charges brought against Ezzatollah Ebrahimnejad was released by the Public Relation Bureau of the Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal of Tehran. Ebrahimnejad [the defendant] was shot to death in the “Kuye Daneshgah” (University Campus) event. The officials have not yet identified the killer or killers. According to this ruling, the deceased was put on trial on charges of participation in an unlawful demonstration that led to sedition, and chanting slogans against and throwing stones at security forces on July 8, 1999, all of which qualify as acts against the national security.
The full text of Court’s ruling is as following:
“The investigation of the case indicates that a group of students were gathered to protest against the government’s ban of “Salam” newspaper. The protest took place at 10 pm of July the 7th  and it took place in front of the university campus “Kuye Daneshgah” (university campus) and the neighboring streets. At the beginning, the presence of the security forces inhibited the demonstration and kept it under control. However, due to the provocations of a group of non-students and masked individuals, the tension increased and resulted in a confrontation between the security guards and these individuals who assaulted the security forces with sticks and stones. The demonstrators were shouting incendiary slogans and a crowd attacked the students’ dormitory, causing substantial damage. Having observed the situation, the security officers retaliated against the unlawful demonstrators who were, in the middle of the night, endangering the nation’s security. Consequently, several of the rioters were arrested.
Based on the investigation’s findings and evidence, the deceased, Ebrahimnejad, who was not a university student, was visiting a friend in the dorms that night. When a disturbance broke out the following morning, he joined in and chanted slogans along with others who were acting against national security, and threw stones at the officials. At the height of the clashes he was shot in a very suspicious manner by one or more armed men present at the scene.
The case was presented to Tehran General Court, branch 1602, where the judge decided that the case involved allegations of actions against the country’s internal security, and therefore was not within the court’s jurisdiction. Hence, due to the nature of the case, it was referred to the Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal.
Simultaneously, there was another suit filed in the third branch of Military Court of Tehran. This caused a conflict of jurisdiction and the case was referred to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled that the Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal had jurisdiction over this case. Hence, the case was proceeding properly in accordance with the law until the brother of the deceased, on 17 December 2000, informed the court that, “Mr. Tajzadeh, political deputy to the Minister of Interior, has stated to be in possession of a tape showing the masked face of Ebrahimnejat’s killer.” The court filed the statement of the deceased’s brother and, on the same day, drafted a letter to Mr. Tajzadeh, political deputy to the Ministry of the Interior demanding, in case that the deceased brother’s claim is true, that he provide the videotape to the Tribunal so that the killer may be identified and prosecuted. The Tribunal gave this letter to the deceased’s brother, who signed a receipt, and was tasked with delivering the letter to Mr. Tajzadeh.
On 20 December 2000, in a letter (number 4/12094/60612), Tajzadeh, in his response to the Tribunal, denied part of the deceased brother’s statements, and stressed that, “I did not say that the killer had a mask. Regarding the videotape in question, it is highly probable that it is in the custody of the secretariat of the Supreme National Security Council or the intelligence section of the Islamic Republic Security Forces.” Therefore, the Tribunal requested the tape from the relevant authorities and on 3 April 2001 a videotape was received from the operations officer of the secretariat of the Supreme National Security Council and was reviewed. However, the deceased’s brother’s and Mr. Tajzadeh’s claim [regarding the identity of the killer] was not verifiable on the videotape. The only thing that could be clearly observed was Mr. Ebrahimnejad throwing stones at the security forces.
Therefore on the 19 April 2001, the Tribunal requested from the Supreme National Security Council information regarding how the Council obtained the videotape. Because of the Tribunal’s doubts, after viewing the videotape, regarding the claims of Mr. Tajzadeh, the Tribunal requested that the Council provide a representative to furnish the Tribunal with the requested and necessary information. Moreover, the previous defense attorney, Ms. Shirin Ebadi, who was familiar with the case, was called to court to help identify the killer. Ms. Ebadi [who was in prison June 27- July 23 for investigating the attack] asserted before the Court that she was not able to name the killer or killers of her client and had asked the victim’s family several times if they could assist in identifying the killer. However, they were unable to do so. Ms. Ebadi mentioned that the deceased’s brother told her that an injured individual had told him that the man who injured him was the same person who shot Ezattollah. Ms. Ebadi asked the brother about that injured individual and was told that he did not know his whereabouts and had heard that he might be in prison. Ms. Ebadi said that this evidence lacked any legal value. Hence, because it was a statement from an individual who was not identified, whose whereabouts were unknown, and whose willingness to testify was not confirmed, she never mentioned it in previous proceedings.
By examining the background of the case, one can see that a camera man from the Tehran affiliate of Seda va Sima (national radio and television) was present on the scene and, according to page 59 of the case, stated that, “after a few minutes of confrontation between the two sides, the students moved down closer. One individual, came down from the sidewalk and was throwing stones, stayed behind and was shot.”
In a section of the Security Forces’ report, mentioned on page 78 of the case, it is stated that the deceased approached the security forces several times. Insulting the officers, he then proceeded to throw stones. And finally, an excerpt from volume 55 of Iran Farda magazine contains a statement from the deceased’s roommate at the dorm: “Ezattollah would actively participate in university gatherings, any other gathering in Tehran such as the commemoration ceremonies for Bazargan, Shariati, Taleghani, and confrontations with government-affiliated militias. He was always on the front lines. That night he was visiting the dorms and went to his went to his friend’s room. The next day I saw him at the friend with the other students throwing stones and chanting slogans. The photograph in the 10 July 1999 edition of Hamshahri magazine clearly shows that Ezattollah on the front lines confronting the Security Forces and Ansar. He was going forward, throwing stones, and chanting slogans. After the arrival of the ministers and the MPs, the dorm almost calmed down. However, Ansar Al-hezboallah continued to mistreat students who were standing in front of the dorm. This was the last time I saw Ezzat. I told him to throw away his stone and come back him.”
Due to the importance of this case and the need to uncover the truth, a letter was sent to the honorable Minister of Information, dated 80/1/26 number TD/ 2077/78. The text of that letter was as follows:
Dear Mr. Minster:
With respect to the case number TD/ 2077/78, the open case on the murder of Mr. Ezzatollah Ebrahimnejad, we respectfully request that you order the relevant officials provide, if possible, responses to the following questions based on the available background information:
- The reason and motivation of the deceased’s presence in the dorm.
- The date of the deceased’s presence in the dorm and the period of his stay.
- Was the deceased present in the dorm in the nights preceding the incident, and, if so, what was the duration of his stay?
- The name(s) of the friend, or friends, who had invited the deceased to the dorm.
- The people that the deceased had contact with in the dorm.
- Had the deceased any role in the incidence of “Kuye daneshgah” and the unrest inside and outside the university? If so, provide us with the evidence.
- Have your forces identified any possible shooter, or shooters. Are there any suspects. If there is evidence or documents, please send it to us.
The Ministry of Intelligence, in response to this letter, sent a letter, dated 5/24/2001, number1/Q/M/ 31882, which gave the court the following information:
"The deceased completed his education in Ahwaz. Upon completion of his degree, he came to Tehran to complete his sacred military service with the Revolutionary Guards. He was serving as an officer with the Guards. At that time, some of his friends and classmates were accepted to graduate programs at Tehran University and became residents in the dormitory".
The above-mentioned individual began visiting the dorm a year before the incident because of his relationship with his friends and former classmates. Later on, because of his talents in literature and poetry, and also because he participated in some of the meetings of individuals known religious-nationalist groups (“Melli- Mazhabiyoon” ) such as Mr. Yazdi and Mr. Sahabi. He fell under their influence and began associating with like-minded people on the campus. Later on, his relationships were limited to new acquaintances who shared his new-found interests. Since the deceased was attracted to the currents of the religious-nationalists, as was a section of the Student Islamic Associations, he progressively became acquainted with the intellectual environment of the Associations. Therefore, he effectively participated in all the student ceremonies organized by Office for Consolidating Unity or the Tabarzadhi Group. These gatherings were critical of the present situation and the Regime’s officials. In confrontations between Ansar Al-Hezbollah and extremist individuals or individuals known as religious-nationalists who participated in the meetings of the Office for Consolidating Unity, he always had an active presence. His presence was such that a close friend of his, Sa’id Shafi’i, a student at the Faculty of Sociology at Tehran University, who was with him the night of the “Kuye daneshgah” incident, has said that it was not often that Ezzatollah didn’t get injured or harm the Ansar Al-Hezbollah. Therefore, he was one of the important participants in the student confrontations that took place before and after the incident of July 8th.
Ezzatollah Ebrahimnejad, on the date of 8 July (night of the incident) was present in the dorm but was in no way aware of the gathering and protests of the student. Since he was staying over at the medical school dorm, which was far away from the main dorm and the mosque, he did not become aware of the confrontation between the students and security forces until 8 AM. At 8 AM, the University of Tehran students who had been assaulted by the security forces and plainclothes individuals, and whose property was damaged, coalesced in front of the campus mosque and began marching. Because the students of the medical school and students not in the area were unaware of the events that had taken place, the marching students went to those dormitories and exhorted them to join the demonstration. At around 8:30 on Friday, Mr. Ezzatollah Ebrahimnejad joined the demonstrators and recited a poem motivating the students to defend their interests. From that time to the moment of his death, the named individual became one of the most identifiable protestors who were throwing stones at the Security Forces. Later that Friday afternoon, he joined a demonstration and had a leading role in confronting the Ansar Al-Hezbollah. His picture, showing him confronting the Security Forces and the Ansar Al-Hezbollah, was on the front page of most newspapers.
Consequently, on the evening Friday of 9 July, during confrontations with the Security Forces, he was shot to death at close range with a Colt revolver. In fact, his murder cannot be considered outside of the context of confrontation, gunfire, stone throwing, tear gas, and etc. That night, hundreds of bullets were fired by different weapons and it is impossible to determine which weapon was responsible for his death. Va Al-salam.
Hence, considering all the above and the fact that the investigation is completed; the Court announces the termination of proceedings and is issuing the decision below.
The Court’s decision:
With respect to Ezzatollah Ebrahimnejad, son of Eshagh, and his charge for committing acts against the internal security of the country through participation in unlawful gatherings and demonstrations resulting in unrest, chanting slogans against security agents, and throwing stones in July 1999, in front of the Tehran University campus unlawful demonstration, engaging in stone throwing at the guards, and insulting the security office, because of the named individual’s death, and pursuant to Article 6, Clause I of the Criminal Procedure of the General and Revolutionary courts which was approved by the Majlis (Parliament), the Court hereby decides to discontinue the criminal prosecution. With respect to the subject of Mr. Ezzatollah Ebrahimnejad, this Court based on Article 5 of the Code of Establishment of the General and Revolutionary Court lacks jurisdiction and competence over this case, and therefore refers it to the Tehran General Courts.
The verdict has been issued and the parties can appeal to the respected Tehran Court of Appeal.
President of the Third Branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal, Hasssan Moghadas.