Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Fakhroddin Modarres


Age: 61
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam
Civil Status: Married


Date of Killing: March 5, 1979
Location of Killing: Qasr Prison, Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Shooting
Charges: Murder of persons and/or killing Muslims or/and freedom fighters

About this Case

He had written on the independence of judges and the presumption of innocence and was ready to defend himself, if tried. In Revolutionary Courts, however, defendants were presumed guilty and judges mandated to kill. 

The news of the execution of Lieutenant General Fakhroddin Modarres and six other men was published by the daily Ettela’at on March 5, 1979 (Pars News Agency, March 6, 1979). The news was also published in the Kayhan daily (March 5, 1979). Additional biographic information was drawn from electronic communications with sources close to him and from a monthly publication of Iran’s Judiciary, Mahnameyeh Qaza’i

Lt. General Modarres is also 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. 

Lt. General Modarres was born on September 28, 1917 in a family of judges and clerics in Esfahan and had a successful law career in the Royal Armed Forces prior to the revolution. He graduated from the military academy in 1938 as Second Lieutenant of Artillery. In addition to his military education, he studied law, and obtained a PhD in criminal law at the University of Paris. From 1944 to 1948, he worked at the Military Prosecution Office. He then served in the Khorasan Brigade as the Central Brigade Chief of Staff and continued to serve in various judicial functions until 1959. He also worked as a legal adviser at the Ministry of War for four years. He was Military Prosecutor until December 24, 1970 when he headed the newly created Supreme Disciplinary Court of Military Judges. On April 19, 1971, he was nominated the Head of the Royal Armed Forces Justice Department and promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General on September 24, 1971. He retired in September 1978. (E-mail communication with ABF) 

During his years of service, Lt. General Modarres was honored and decorated many times with medals including for his “meritorious service”, “effort”, and “order of service.” According to the Mahnameyeh Qaza’i, he believed that a powerful army was the key to preserving the independence and security of the country, and to safeguarding the monarchy. He was convinced that to reach the above-mentioned goals, the army needed discipline and “laws had to be properly and forcefully implemented.” His legal opinion was highly respected among his peers and his writings, on the independence of judges ( Mahnameyeh Qaza’i, no 69) or the presumption of innocence ( Mahnameyeh Qaza’i, no 89) for example, are still quoted by jurists calling for legal reform and a more independent judiciary in Iran. 

 He believed that a powerful army was the key to preserving the independence and security of the country, and to safeguarding the monarchy. He was convinced that to reach the above-mentioned goals, the army needed discipline and “laws had to be properly and forcefully implemented.”

Based on the testimony given by sources close to Lt. General Modarres to Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation, he was a simple, religious, and kind man who stayed away from the Royal Court’s festivities and did not use his influence to accumulate wealth. He enjoyed walking in his garden with his granddaughter and watching the quince trees grow. He had been repeatedly warned to leave the country after his retirement, but he refused and insisted that he had not done anything illegal and could defend himself when they put him on trial. 

Lt. General Modarres, along with 22 other officials of the previous regime, were tried once on February 17 and sentenced to death. However, according to the Kayhan newspaper dated February 18, 1979, on an order from Ayatollah Khomeini, the death sentences were not enforced for 19 individuals, including Lt. General Modarres. 

Arrest and detention 

No information regarding Mr. Fakhroldin Modarres's arrest and detention is available. 


Based on the Pars News Agency report, the Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal of Iran tried Lt. General Modarres and six other officials of the former regime on March 4, 1979. The court was in session for nine hours, discussing and deliberating about a number of cases, including the defendant’s case. The specific circumstances of the trial remain unknown. 


No individual charges were specified for Lt. General Modarres. Collectively, the seven defendants were charged with “participation in murder and massacre of innocent people.” 

Evidence of guilt 

No information is available on the evidence presented against Lt. General Modarres. The Kayhan report referred to the testimonies of “eyewitnesses” for other former officials and mentions some unspecified documents in the court’s possession. 


The court’s proceedings were held behind closed doors after the eyewitnesses’ testimonies were heard. Kayhan reported, however, that all seven accused denied the charges and declared themselves innocent of any crime. 


The Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal of Iran declared Lt. General Modarres a “corruptor on earth.” Based on the court’s communiqué, the Tribunal reached its verdict for him and the six others former officials after nine hours of deliberation on the day of their trial. The Kayhan report describes the last hour of Lt. General Fakhr Modarres as follows: 

“To implement the sentence, some sections of Qasr Prison were under alert last night. The guards controlled people’s movements with vigilance and led the convicts to their cells blindfolded. After an hour, there was again some turmoil and the guards moved the prisoners to a room in Qasr Prison where they heard the court sentence again... Their hands were then untied and they were given pen and paper to write their last words and send messages to whomever they wanted… each of them said a few words that were taped.” Lt. General Fakhr Modarres was executed by firing squad in the courtyard of Qasr Prison on March 5, 1979 at 4:15 a.m. 

According to sources close to him, authorities also confiscated the Lt. General Fakhr Modarres’ properties.  

Correct/ Complete This Entry