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

Ali Heydarian


Age: 31
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Unknown
Civil Status: Single


Date of Execution: May 9, 2010
Location: Evin Prison, Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: War on God, God's Prophet and the deputy of the Twelfth Imam

Human rights violations in this case

The Legal Context

The Courts


Islamic Revolutionary Courts, 11 February 1979-1994


In the immediate aftermath of the 11 February 1979 Revolution, an ad hoc tribunal, initially referred to as the Extraordinary Revolutionary Tribunal, was set up to try the officials of the previous regime, for which no specific procedures were devised. In a decree dated 24 February 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini, the revolutionary religious leader, appointed a cleric as Shari’a Judge and instructed him “to issue Shari’a-based rulings,” thereby establishing the foundation of a system of special courts.


Initially, the revolutionary courts’ jurisdiction was determined by the religious judge’s interpretation of the Shari’a (Islamic law based on the teachings of the Qur’an, the traditions of the Prophet, the 12 imams, and the teachings of Shi’a scholars. On 17 June 1979, the Revolutionary Courts and the Prosecutor’s Office Rules of Procedure, which was only selectively observed, established the latter’s jurisdiction and make-up.


The Courts’ jurisdiction encompassed a wide array of offenses including moharebeh (“waging war with God”), efsad e fel arz (“spreading corruption on Earth”), crimes against national and international security, economic crimes, murder, profiteering, prostitution, rape, and narcotic drugs-related crimes. The law required that two of the three principal members of the Revolutionary Courts be Shari’a judges.



Islamic Revolutionary Courts, 1994-2002


With the adoption of the Law for the Establishment of General and Revolutionary Courts of 14 June 1994, and the Code of Criminal Procedure for General and Revolutionary Courts of 19 September 1999, a uniform code of procedure was applied to both revolutionary and general courts. The jurisdiction of the Revolutionary Courts was limited to 6 categories of offenses:

1. Crimes against national and international security,“moharebeh” (enmity with god) and “efsad e fel arz” (corruption on earth;)

2. defaming Ayatollah Khomeini and the Supreme Leader;

3. plotting against the Islamic Republic of Iran, armed action, terrorism, and sabotage;

4. espionage;

5. smuggling and drug-related crimes; 6. claims under Principle 49 (economic crimes) of the Constitution.

 6. Furthermore, pursuant to the Law on the Manner of Punishing Individuals Engaged in Unauthorized Audio and Visual Activities, Article 11, the revolutionary courts have jurisdiction over crimes that fall within the purview of said Law, including production and distribution of obscene materials and misuse and abuse thereof.

These courts continued, however, to try cases falling outside their jurisdiction, such as theft and sexual offenses. Further, the vagueness of laws regarding national security allowed the revolutionary courts to try political and media crimes whenever they wished to do so.


The new law eliminated the Prosecutor’s Office and gave the judges inthe Revolutionary Courts the power to perform the duties of the prosecutor, as well as their own, in any case brought before them.


Islamic Revolutionary Courts, 2002-Present


The Amended Law for the Establishment of General and Revolutionary Courts of 2002 reinstated the Prosecutor’s Office in both revolutionary and general courts. In cases involving political and media crimes, revolutionary courts’ jurisdiction overlaps with that of Province Criminal Courts.


With the passage of the new Rules of Criminal Procedure in 2014, and its coming into force in June 2015, the jurisdiction of the revolutionary courts remains unchanged, with slight modifications in procedural aspects of adjudication. For instance, the new law provides that for crimes subject to the death penalty, life imprisonment, amputation, third degree, or higher, the revolutionary court shall convene with three judges, whereas, prior to the passage of this law, adjudication of all crimes within the jurisdiction of revolutionary courts took place with only a single judge.

The Appellate System of Revolutionary Courts, 1979-Present


From their inception until 1994, the rulings of the Revolutionary Courts were not subject to appeal. In the early 1980s a court entitled the Supreme Court of Qom was established in the city of Qom and which reviewed cases of execution and confiscation of properties, thereby forming a first tier form of appeal. The exact date of the creation of the court is not clear, but, based on available information, the court became operational in the early 1980s, even though Ayatollah Khomeini's official order for its creation is dated 1985. The court’s procedure was not systematic and did not meet the international standards for a court of appeals; there was no official record of its jurisdiction. The Supreme Court of Qom was dissolved in 1989.


The Law of 14 June 1994 subjected the Courts’ decisions to appeal. An appellate court was established at each provincial capital, called the Province Court of Appeals, composed of a three-judge panel, to review decisions made by the Revolutionary Courts. The Supreme Court was designated as the appellate authority for particular decisions, including those involving capital punishment.


Narcotic drugs-related crimes constitute a significant exception to the appeals process. Governed by the Anti-Narcotic Drugs Law of 1988, as Amended on 8 November 1997 and 31 July 3 2010, these crimes are within the jurisdiction of, and are adjudicated on a regular basis by, Revolutionary Courts whose decisions are final. After being handed down by the judge, death sentences are sent to the Prosecutor General or the Head of the Supreme Court as a matter of administrative approval.


With the passage of the new Rules of Criminal Procedure in 2014 (and its coming into force in June 2015), however, drug related crimes became subject to appeal as well.

General Courts, 1979-1982


In cases not falling under the jurisdiction of the Revolutionary Courts, the system devised under the previous regime continued to function in parallel with new systems devised by laws passed by the Judicial Council, one of which, entitled The Legal Bill for the Establishment of General Courts of 11 September 1979, radically changed the entire structure and categorization of the courts. It divided the courts in three branches: Criminal, Civil, and Peace (a sort of arbitration court dealing with minor financial and other disputes). Specialized courts such as family courts were eliminated.


General Courts, 1982-1994


The Law of the Amendments to the Rules of Criminal Procedure of 1982 established a new criminal courts system, Criminal Courts I and II. Criminal Court I, established only in provincial capitals, had jurisdiction over more serious offenses, including those punishable by death, and Criminal Court II heard less serious crimes.


General Courts, 1994-2002


The Law for the Establishment of General and Revolutionary Courts of 14 June 1994 established umbrella courts called General Courts, which replaced and dissolved pre-existing civil and criminal courts. The law dissolved the Prosecutor’s offices and tasked a single person with the roles of judge, prosecutor, and investigator.


General Courts, 2002-2015


In 2002, the 1994 Law was amended, reviving the role of the Prosecutor’s Office in General Courts. The prosecution offices were re-established in a gradual process over several years. The amended law also re-established specialized branches within general courts dealing separately with criminal and civil matters. In addition, this law allocated a number of branches of the Province Court of Appeals to have original jurisdiction over a number of cases including the most serious offenses, as well as political and media crimes. In these cases, the branches are called the Province Criminal Court.


General Courts, 2015 to Today


With the passage of the new Rules of Criminal Procedure in 2014 and its coming into force in June 2015, general courts underwent certain changes as well. Criminal courts were divided into Criminal Court One, Criminal Court Two, Military Court, Juvenile Court, and Revolutionary Court. Criminal Court One has jurisdiction over serious crimes such as those subject to the death penalty, life imprisonment, amputation, third degree, and higher, as well as political and media crimes. Criminal Court Two has jurisdiction over other crimes. Another change consists of the establishment of juvenile courts, which adjudicates crimes committed by individuals less than 18 years of age. In cases where the individuals less than 18 commit serious crimes such as those subject to the death penalty, however, Criminal Court One will have jurisdiction, observing rules of juvenile criminal procedure.


The Appellate System of General Courts, 1979-Present


The Legal Bill for the Establishment of General Courts of 11 September 1979, abolished appeal of most criminal courts’ decisions. The law of 1982 restricted the appeal possibility even further. According to the Islamic Republic authorities’ interpretation of Islamic Law, a qualified jurist’s decisions were not subject to appeal except under special circumstances, such as when the judge realized his own mistake, or another judge advised him so, or when he did not have jurisdiction over the case. Even in such situations, the case would not go to a higher court but would be subject to review by the same judge or another judge at his level. The judges were even urged to call their verdicts “opinions,” so that the possible change in the verdict would not be “haram” (“sinful,” the highest level of prohibition in Islam, disobedience of which would result in a sin).


In October 1988, the Majles (Iranian parliament) passed a law regarding review of court judgments. This law provided for an appeal if the conviction was claimed to be based on invalid documentation or false testimony. The defendant could also base an appeal on a point of law or a procedural violation.


The appellate system was expanded in other laws in the late 1980s and in 1993. The Law for the Establishment of Criminal Courts I and II of 11 July 1989 created the Branches of the Supreme Court. Crimes of less importance, tried in Criminal Court II, were subject to review by Criminal Court I.


For the most important crimes involving death punishment, which were under the jurisdiction of Criminal Court I, the law allowed limited appeal to the Branches of the Supreme Court. Defendants had the right to petition the Supreme Court for appeal in certain cases involving false testimony or procedural violations, and if granted, the case would be remanded to either another criminal court or the original one.


Finally, the Law for the Establishment of General and Revolutionary Courts of 1994, as amended in 2002, established an appellate court at each provincial capital, called Province Court of Appeals, composed of a three-judge panel, to review decisions made by both general and revolutionary courts. The Supreme Court was designated as the appellate authority for particular decisions, including those carrying the death penalty, as well as decisions made by the Province Criminal Court.


The amended law of 2002, continued the appellate procedure to the Branches of the Supreme Court established by the afore-mentioned law of 11 July 1989


The Supreme Court continues to be the competent authority to rule on new trials, which have been provided for in limited circumstances.

With the passage of the new Rules of Criminal Procedure in 2014 and its coming into force in June 2015, the Court of Appeals shall be the competent authority to hear appeals from Criminal Court Two decisions, and the Supreme Court shall hear appeals from Criminal Court One decisions.

Special Courts for the Clergy


These courts are rooted in a 1979 decree, issued by Ayatollah Khomeini, which established a committee of religious and noble figures in every region to purge the clergy of anti-revolutionary elements under the supervision of the Revolutionary Courts. Between late 1981 and 1984, a special court in the city of Qom handled, though not systematically, the trial of clerics.


On 29 July 1987, Ayatollah Khomeini officially appointed a prosecutor and a member of the clergy as Shari’a judge for Special Courts for the Clergy. On 6 August 1990, a directive was issued regulating the conduct of these courts, the jurisdictional ambiguity of which is such that it effectively extends to “anyone where one of the parties is a cleric” and to “all matters in which the Court is designated as competent by the Supreme Leader.”


The court, which was not mentioned in the Islamic Republic's constitution, was mandated to try “pseudo clerics, those related to/connected with the clergy, for public and/or anti-revolutionary crimes, and violations of the prestige of the clergy,” and where the principal suspect is a member of the clergy, “any co-conspirator or assistant, whether a cleric or not.”


These courts are generally not open to the public and can issue sentences for all acts and omissions punishable under codified Iranian laws or Shari’a or for any other acts or omissions which can bring dishonor to the clergy or to the Islamic Revolution. Further, in certain particular cases – which have not been defined – where no punishment has been devised by either the Penal Code or even the Shari’a, the Court “can rule as it deems fit.” 


The Appellate System of the Special Court for the Clergy, 1979-Present


There is no information on any appeal process for the Special Court for the Clergy prior to the 1990 directive. Article 49 of said directive set up, however, an appeals court called Special Appellate Court for the Clergy, the head of which is appointed by the Supreme Leader, to which the decisions of the lower court can be appealed.


Military Courts


The military court system, independent from the judiciary under the previous regime, became a part of it on 1 December 1981. The Judiciary Organization of the Armed Forces, established in 1986, replaced and merged other military courts and tribunals in existence at the time, namely the pre-revolution Judiciary Organization of the Army, the Revolutionary Tribunal of the Army (established on 8 December 1979), and the Revolutionary and General Court for the Revolutionary Guards (established on 15 July 1979.) The Judiciary Organization of the Armed Forces has its own Criminal Code and follows the country’s general rules of criminal procedure.


The Law of the Criminal Procedure of the Armed Forces of 15 May 1985 created Military Courts I and II. Military Court I has jurisdiction over more serious offenses, including those punishable by death, and Military Court II hears less serious crimes.


The Appellate System of Military Courts, 1979-Present


The law of 8 December 1979, establishing the Revolutionary Military Court, did not provide for any appeals. The Law of 15 May 1985 created a system of appeals through the creation of a two-tier system of courts. The decisions of Military Court II were subject to review by Military Court I. This law also provided that multiple Branches of the Supreme Court be designated as the appellate court to review decisions of Military Court I.


The judges


1979-1997: Prosecutors and judges are not necessarily law graduates and jurists. Shortly after the Islamic Revolution, a five-member Committee was established to purge the judicial system of undesirable elements, pursuant to the Legal Bill for the Modification of the Judiciary and the Law for Hiring Judges of 8 March 1979. The power of the committee was absolute and its decisions, resulting in a widespread purge of the judiciary, final.


The Law for the Conditions of Selection of Judges of 4 May 1981 established the conditions of eligibility for judges. The latter were to be hired among men who were legitimate children and had practical commitment to Islam and allegiance to the Islamic Republic. The law, which led to the hiring of clerics and Islamic legal scholars, also allowed hiring practically anyone as a judge who could “obtain the Judicial High Council’s permission.” Moreover, Note 2 of the Amendments of 4 October 1982 to this law allowed widespread employment of seminary students “who ha[d] general knowledge equivalent to a high school diploma” as judges at prosecutor’s offices in general as well as Revolutionary Courts.  


By 1989, the judiciary counted about 2,000 new judges trained in theological seminaries (graduates and students) and political appointees, many having replaced judges trained in law schools.


1997-Present: As of this writing (2013) the Law for Hiring Judges and its amendments of 4 October 1982, 7 February 1987, and 9 May 1988 are in full force and form the basis for hiring judges. The Executive Rules of Procedure of 22 December 1997 subjected such hiring to passing an entrance examination and successful completion of an apprenticeship program, the duration of which ranges between one and two years. The law does not limit hiring to men only but does not specify in what capacity women will be functioning, other than an advisory one.

Currently, judges are selected in accordance with the Guidelines on the Recruitment, Selection, and Internship for Judicial Candidates and the Hiring of Judges.


Dismissal of Judges: From 1979 to 1989, the judiciary was run by the Supreme Judicial Council which was composed of the head of the Supreme Court, the Prosecutor General (both of whom were appointed by the Supreme Leader), and three judges elected by the entire body of judges in the country. The Council had the power to hire and dismiss judges in accordance with the law.


The constitutional reforms of 1989 substituted the Supreme Judicial Council with one person, the Head of the Judiciary. The Supreme Leader, whose mandate is not subject to popular vote, appoints the Head of the Judiciary for a 5-year term. The latter has significant power to influence the dismissal of judges. Dismissal cases are referred to three types of disciplinary courts, presided over by judges appointed by the Head of the Judiciary, who has veto power over any decisions made by the relevant courts.


Two of these courts, established in 1991 and 2011, are charged with examining the judges’ conduct from a religious and ideological standpoint. The process does not necessarily involve the defendant and the final decision, left to the Head of the Judiciary, is not subject to appeal.


Human rights violations

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 to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, including the right to change and manifest one’s religion or belief.

    UDHR, Article 18; ICCPR, Article 18.1, ICCPR, Article 18.2; Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, Article 1 and Article 6.

    In its general comment 22 (48) of 20 July 1993, the United Nation’s Human Rights Committee observed that the freedom to "have or to adopt" a religion or belief necessarily entailed the freedom to choose a religion or belief, including the right to replace one's current religion or belief with another or to adopt atheistic views, as well as the right to retain one's religion or belief. Article 18, paragraph 2, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights bars coercion that would impair the right to have or adopt a religion or belief, including the use of threat of physical force or penal sanctions to compel believers or non-believers to adhere to religious beliefs and congregations, to recant their religion or belief or to convert.

  • The right to freedom of opinion and expression, including the right to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas.

    UDHR, Article 19; ICCPR, Article 19.1 and ICCPR, Article 19.2.

  • The right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade union for the protection of one’s interests.

    UDHR, Article 20; ICCPR, Article 22.1.

The right to due process

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 legal aid and the right to meet with one’s attorney in confidence

    ICCPR, 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; Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, Article 8%viol_bprl_8%..

  • 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 or punishment.

    UDHR, Article 5; ICCPR, Article 7; Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Article 1, and Article 2.

Trial rights

    • The right to a fair and public trial without undue delay.

      ICCPR, Article 9.3, Article 14.1, Article 14.3.c.

    • The right to examine, or have examined the witnesses against one and to obtain the attendance and examination of defense witnesses under the same conditions as witnesses for the prosecution.

ICCPR, Article 14.3.e.

  • The right to have the decision rendered in public.

    ICCPR, Article 14.1.

Judgment rights

  • The right to seek pardon or commutation of sentence.

    ICCPR, Article 6.4.

Capital punishment

  • 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.

About this Case

The execution of Mr. Ali Heidarian, son of Ahad, born and resident in Sanandaj, and four others* was announced by the public relations department of Tehran's Public and Revolution Courts, and posted on several news websites, including ISNA (9 May), Green Movement (10 May), Committee of Human Rights Reporters (6 June), [and] Organization of Revolutionary Workers of Iran [Rahekargar] (10 May) 2010. Information concerning Mr. Heidarian's arrest and case have been extracted from Amnesty International (12 January), Amirkabir Newsletter (26 February) 2011, [and] Human Rights Watch of Kurdistan (20 October) 2007. Additional information has been taken from the testimony of Sabah Nasri, managing editor of 'Rojameh' and a former ward mate of Mr Heidarian, in an interview with Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (22 February 2011).

Arrest and detention

The public relations department of Tehran's Public and Revolution Courts announced: "The search squad of Police Precinct116 of Molavi [street of Tehran] grew suspicious of two individuals standing next to a Paykan [Iranian-manufactured car], during their patrol on 19 August 2006. On spotting the police officers, the two individuals fled the scene. One of them, called Peyman, whose real name was later found to be Kaveh, was arrested, while the other, named Kamal, escaped…. The officers went to the two individuals' residence, arresting Farzad Kamangar (one of the defendants executed at the same time as Mr Heidarian)."

Although there was no mention of Mr Heidarian's arrest in the announcement by the public relations office of the Prosecutor of Tehran's Public and Revolution Courts, Mr Heidarian himself mentioned the date of his arrest in the following letter sent from Evin Prison, on 1st February 2010:

"I was arrested by several plainclothes agents on 19 August 2006 and taken to an unidentified location." In the letter, Mr Heidarian gives a detailed description of his interrogation and torture: "After entering a building in an unidentified location, …one of the agents angrily heading towards me, and suddenly tripping me up. I was handcuffed. He proceeded to kick and punch me all over my face and body; he was so engrossed in the act, beaming with a mixture of satisfaction, anger and excitement… Finally, one of his colleagues intervened to stop him. Then a few other plainclothes agents from the Intelligence Ministry blindfolded me and put me inside a car. ... One of them began the interrogation by asking me, 'Where are you from'? I told him I was a Kurd from Sanandaj. I had not finished my sentence when he proceeded to punch me. ... He said, 'You are a Sunni. Why are you called Ali and your surname is Heidarian?' ... they handed me over to another set of agents for [further] interrogation.

After entering a large room, they sat me in a chair facing an interrogator in an opposite chair. Another agent holding an electric shock baton stood next to me. They proceeded to interrogate me without reading the charges against me. The person next to me continued to apply electric shocks to sensitive parts of my body, such as my face, ears and fingertips, while I was being interrogated. The purpose was to ensure that I answered the questions without a second's delay. Dozens of times I found myself answering questions that I had not even fully understood in order to escape further electric shocks. They took off all my clothes and laid me down flat on the ground. My hands were tied behind my back. Another agent pressed his foot on my shoulder, pulling my hands upwards, making it impossible for me to make any movement. To intensify the pain, one of them double folded the rope, flogging me hard from head to toe. He was clearly very proficient in his work since he knew the most sensitive parts of the body as well as a doctor... The interrogator constantly bellowed, 'I am the god here and your life is in my hands.'

It was close to midnight when I was again shoved into a car and taken to yet another location. ... Upon entering a building, a five-man team proceeded to beat me up without even asking me any questions; they merely sought to terrify and intimidate me. One grabbed my left and the other my right hand; another two kicked and punched me while the fifth kept applying electric shocks. They kept repeating, 'This is the end of the line. No-one will leave here alive.' ...One of them held an instrument in his hand with which he kept trying to pull out my fingernails, causing such agony the intensity of which made my earlier pains relatively insignificant.

Interrogations took place from dawn to dusk every day. At the end of each session I was taken back to my cell. Some two weeks had passed since the start of my interrogations when as a result of a very heavy punch by one of the interrogators I suffered from such a nose bleed that even their doctor could not stop the bleeding. I was taken to a clinic outside the detention center, where I found out that I had been held in Ward 209 of Evin Prison.

This ordeal continued for several months. When they failed to come up with any evidence to convict me of their intended charges, they decided to send me to Kermanshah Province in the hope that they may be able to charge me with whatever they wished there. So I was transferred to a detention center in Kermanshah, without any new charges, let alone the fact that I had not been formally charged with anything in the first place. In this period, which lasted more than two months, I endured the worst kind of psychological torture in addition to the physical torture. When they failed to find any incriminating evidence against me, the prosecutor issued a ruling rejecting the competence of the court that was dealing with my case; I was again returned to Ward 209 of Evin Prison.

After some nine months, I was allowed, for the first time, to have a brief telephone conversation with my family to let them know that I was alive. I was transferred to Sanandaj in June 2007, but sent back to Tehran after two months. At this stage not even my family was immune from psychological pressure. They arrested and tortured my brother merely because he was related to me; as a result of torture, his hand was paralyzed for some time. [Before that] In April 2007, I was sent to Ward 5 of Raja'ishahr Prison in Karaj, where they hold prisoners suffering from AIDS.

Regarding circumstances of the arrests of Ali Heidarian, Farhad Vakili, and Farzad Kamanger, Human Rights Watch of Kurdistan reported, on 20 October 2007, that three Kurdish prisoners (Farzad Kamangar, Farhad Vakili, and Ali Heidarian), who had been in detention for over 14 months, had been barred from receiving visitors for about a month. Mr Heidarian was subjected to yet further interrogation following his trial and sentencing. He remarks on the post-sentencing interrogation in his letter: "In October 2008 ... they sent me back to Ward 209 for further interrogation. Despite the fact that the judge had already issued a verdict and there were no new charges, I remained in Ward 209 for six months and was subjected to more interrogations."


There is no available information about the court session or sessions. The cases of Ali Heidarian and two other defendants were heard at Branch 30 of Tehran's Revolution Court, on 30 January 2008. According to human rights organizations in Iran, the trial and sentencing of Ali Heidarian and two other defendants took a few minutes. Ali Heidarian had also mentioned the trial in his letter: "Some 18 months after my arrest, I was summoned to Branch 30 of the Revolution Court. In a trial lasting less than 10 minutes, in which not even the most basic rules of procedure were observed."

Mr. Khalil Bahramian, the lawyer of the two other defendants who were tried with Mr. Heidaian, confirmed Mr. Heidaria’s statements about the court. According to him, the court spent only 10 minutes to ask the defendants basic questions like their names, etc. Their lawyer was never allowed to speak. According to Mr. Bahramian: “When I told the judge I have something to say (as the lawyer), he said write it on a piece of paper, I want to to go in order to say my prayers. (so) he did not even listen to me.”


Ali Heidarian and two other defendants, all of whom were executed at the same time, were charged with "moharebeh [waging war against God] through active operations for mini groups opposed to the system, as well as possession and smuggling of weapons and ammunition." According to Mr. Heidarian himself, he was charged with connection to P.K.K.**

The validity of the criminal charges brought against this defendant cannot be ascertained in the absence of the basic guarantees of a fair trial. 

Evidence of guilt

The public relations department of Tehran's Public and Revolution Courts claimed to have the following evidence against Ali Heidarian and two other defendants: "A total of 10 kilograms of explosives were found on the defendants at the time of arrest, and another 12 kilograms [of explosives] as well as 15 detonators and two grenades were discovered in the home of Farhad Vakili. Also found in the homes of the defendants were 57 RPG bullets, 600 light arms' cartridges, 700 Persian translations of a book by PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, 300 posters of the mini group's leaders, and 300 propaganda pamphlets and literature." The same statement indicated that after searching the defandants’ vehicle, the officers found five kilograms of explosives planted under the driver's seat


There is no precise information concerning the defendant's statements of defense. In his letter from Evin Prison, Mr Heidarian wrote that his only crime was being a "Kurd." Mr Heidarian who repeatedly pleaded innocence wrote in relation to the said charges that after months of interrogation at Evin Prison, the interrogators had failed to find any incriminating evidence against him. As a result, they had to transfer him back to Kermanshah Province. He wrote in his letter, "When I asked the judge on the basis of what evidence he had passed the verdict, he told me that verdicts regarding political cases were issued by security bodies and that he was merely following orders."

Based on the testimony of Sabah Nasri, one of Mr Heidarian's ward mates, many charges were leveled against Mr Heidarian and the three other defendants who were executed at the same time; yet the Intelligence Ministry did not have any documents to corroborate those charges. Moreover, none of the defendants had confessed. Ultimately, the Intelligence Ministry managed to impose its will based on reports from its intelligence branches in the defendants' home towns.

It is not clear if Mr. Heidaian had a chance to bring up his torture claims in the court and if he actually did, what measures were taken in response to it and to protect the defandants, especially because these claims were publicized whatsoever by letters and through other means.


The court sentenced Mr Heidarian to death and a 10-year prison term. The verdict was upheld by the State Supreme Court. Before execution, Mr Heidarian had been subjected to two [prison] transfers. He highlighted them in his letter: "In October 2008, I was taken to Evin Prison alongside 30 other death row prisoners from Raja'ishahr. On that day, 29 prisoners were executed, but I was sent back to Ward 209 for further interrogation." He wrote that some nine months after his first transfer for the purpose of carrying out his sentence: "I was transferred for a second time to Ward 240 of Evin Prison, where they hold death row prisoners in solitary confinement prior to execution. Every day I was waiting for execution; the waiting was worse than the execution itself. Yet once again they did not execute me and took me back to Evin, where I am currently living – if you could call it living. ... And this is my life story. Ali Heidarian. (Weblog of Rahekargar [Organization of Revolutionary Workers of Iran])

Mr Heidarian was hanged on 9 May 2010 in Evin Prison without the knowledge of his lawyer and family. He was buried secretly in an unknown location without the presence of his family.

The families of Mr. Heidarian and the other four individuals executed the same day, met with the governor-general of Kordestan on 2nd June 2010. They asked him for the bodies of their loved ones. The governor-general of Kordestan responded by saying: "Those executed have been buried in a location which, for security reasons, we are not at liberty to disclose. The authorities will inform you of the location once some time has passed and the circumstances are right." In the wake of that meeting, security and intelligence forces contacted the victims' families threatening them with arrest should they embark on more such meetings.


* Shirin Alamhuli Atashgah, Farzad Kamangar, Mehdi Eslamian, and Farhad Vakili
** Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.) was established in 1974 by Abdullah Ocalan. It was officially named P.K.K. in 1978. This party is engaged in an armed struggle with the Turkish Government since 1984. Its ideology is a mixture of socialism and Kurdish nationalism. Its declared aim is to establish an independent Kurdistan in the south of Turkey, north of Iraq and parts of Iran. In 1999, Abdullah Ocalan was arrested in Kenya and sentenced to life imprisonment. In 2000, the party declared that the party would only use political means. In its 8th congress in 2002, the party officially renounced its armed means and changed its name to Kurdistan Liberty and Democracy Congress (KADEK). In 2003, the party changed its name again to Kongra-Gel (KGK). It confirmed its peacefull intentions but continued its armed struggles in the context of self-defense. In June 2003, the People’s Defense Force (HPG) which has taken over the party since February 2003, renounced the 5-year cease fire with the government of Turkey.

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