Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

https://www.iranrights.org
Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Khadijeh (Shahla) Jahed

About

Age: 41
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam
Civil Status: Single

Case

Date of Killing: December 1, 2010
Location: Shemiranat, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Adultery; Robbery; Murder; Drug related offense

About this Case

Introduction

Information regarding Ms. Khadijeh (Shahla) Jahed’s execution was collected from Amnesty International’s website (1, 25 November 2005, 11 March 2008, 23, 30 November and 1 December 2010), European Parliament (6 December 2010), The Islamic Human Rights Commission (4 August 2008), Guardian (30 November 2010), Dwiche Welle (1 December 2010), BBC (12 February 2009), Abdolsamad Khorramshahi’s Personal Website (quoting Eghtesad va Zendegi Magazine, 12 March 2011, quoting Ettefaghe No, July 2010, quoting Nasim Haraz Magazine, March 2008, quoting Ettefaq No, July 2010)(1) and a documentary named, Red Card.

Ms. Jahed was 41 year old and temporary wife of Naser Mohammadkhani, the Iranian famous soccer player in the 80s. She had a high school diploma and an associate’s degree in nursing. She was studying psychology long-distance in prison, and if she had not been executed, she could have obtained her bachelor’s degree after one semester (an interview with Ms. Jahed’s sister, Farhikhtegan, 1 December 2010).

According to Ms. Jahed, she was in love with Naser Mohammadkhani since she was 13. She met him at the same age once, but her relationship with him had begun 4 years before her arrest. She was temporarily married to him. According to Iranian law, a man and woman can be temporarily married for a certain amount of time with certain amount of cabinet. Ms. Jahed was working as a nurse and used to meet with Naser Mohammadkhani in an apartment which he bought for her (ISNA, 1 December 2010).

Ms. Jahed spent 9 years in detention waiting for her death. According to Ms. Fereshteh Ghazi, her cellmate, she was a nice, energetic woman who used to help new-comers in the prison (Guardian, 30 November 2010). She was an active, sociable woman who had different responsibilities in prison; for example, she worked in the prison’s supermarket (Abdolasamad Khorramshahi’s Personal Website quoting Nasim Haraz Magazine, March 2007).

Ms. Jahed’s case was one of the most controversial and complicated murder cases in Iran. A documentary, Red Card, was made about this case which was banned in Iran (Guardian, 29 November 2010). A great number of human rights activists, artists, etc at the national and international level tried to stop the execution. This execution also caused a severe international response in that many foreign media outlets covered the case as well as many human rights and political institutions that protested the Iranian government. For instance, the European Parliament condemned this execution as an example of torture and other inhumane and cruel acts (European Parliament, 6 December 2010).

Arrest and Detention

Ms. Jahed was arrested on 19 October 2002 for the murder of Ms. Saharkhizan, two weeks after the incident. She was arrested by the 10th Circuit of police force of Tehran. The detectives found out that on the day of Ms. Saharkhizan’s murder, a woman cashed a blank check of Mr. Mohammad Khani in a bank. This clue led the detectives to Mr. Mohammadkhani’s affair with Ms. Jahed and thus made her a primary suspect (Fars News, 24 September 2006; Roozonline, 30 November 2010; Etemad, 7 July 2007; Entekhab, 25 September 2010).

Trial

The first judge of Ms. Jahed’s case was off the case for unknown reasons. In January 2003, another judge was assigned to the case as a temporary substitute for the first judge who traveled to Saudi Arabia for Haj, but he completely took charge of the case afterwards (Roozonline, 30 November 2010).

The first session of Ms. Jahed’s trial was held on 6 June 2004 in Branch 1154 of Tehran Criminal Judicial Complex. This trial lasted four sessions, from which, 3 sessions were public and one session was not (ISNA, 1 December 2010, Amnesty International, 23, 30 November and 1 December 2010).

Afterwards, Ms. Jahed’s case became very complicated and vicissitudinous. According to Article 223 of the Criminal Procedure, it was referred to Branch 15 of the Supreme Court and afterwards was sent for the Authorization of Ayatollah Shahrudi, the Head of the Judiciary (2). But in the fall of 2005, Ayatollah Shahrudi refused to authorize the execution and according to Article 18 of the Criminal Procedure, he declared the case clearly against Islamic Shari’ah and sent it to another court (3). Ms. Jahed’s case was resent to Branch 3 and 7 of the Supreme Court using this mechanism. At last, the case was sent to Branch 1147th of Be’sat Judicial Complex (Amnesty International, 1 and 25 November 2005, 11 March 2008, 23, 30 November and 1 December 2010).

On 22 and 23 February 2009, another trial was held for Ms. Jahed. The court was closed. According to Mr. Khorramshahi, Ms. Jahed’s lawyer, the trial was held not publicly with the judge’s discretion. The defendant and her lawyer made several efforts to have a public trial but failed (Asr-e Iran, Ebrat, 16 March 2009). (4)

Charges

Ms. Jahed’s charges were Ms. Saharkhizan’s murder, theft of her properties, having an illegitimate affair with Naser Mohammadkhani, and purchasing opium for him (ISNA, 29 November 2010).

Evidence of guilt

The verdict against Ms. Jahed was issued on the basis of the “judge’s knowledge” which is one of the four ways to prove murder according to Article 231 of the Penal Code (Roozonline, 30 November 2010). It seems that the basis of the judge’s knowledge was the defendant’s confession, crime scene reconstruction, testimonies of witnesses, etc.

Ms. Jahed denied the murder charges for 11 months after the incident but in spring 2003, after meeting Naser Mohammadkhani in the yard of the 11 Circuit Police Station during her pre-trial detention, she confessed to murder (Ettela’at, 17 June 2004, Roozonline, 30 November 2010). She said:

“Naser went to Germany with Perspolis (a soccer team in Tehran). I decided to use his absence for my benefit and get rid of Laleh forever. The night before the incident, I went into Naser’s apartment with the key that I possessed and hid behind the radiator. I saw from there that Laleh, her two kids, and a friend of hers came home. I remained behind the radiator until the next morning. When the kids went to school and her friend left, Laleh was lying on the bed. I got my knife ready and put on my gloves. I picked a badminton racket and hit her in the head with its handle. Then we grappled together and I stabbed her until she died” (ISNA, 1 December 2010). According to a report against her, immediately after the murder, she called a number in Busher, a city in the south of Iran, smoked a cigarette and stole some jewelry to mislead the police (Sharq, 21 June 2010).

Ms. Jahed reconstructed the crime scene, during which she showed a blood stain on the back of the mattress which the police had not noticed before. She also explained in details the dialogue between Ms. Saharkhizan and her friend, the color of their clothes, etc. The crime scene reconstruction was filmed, and the film was shown at the court as an evidence of guilt (Red Card Documentary).

Another piece of evidence against Ms. Jahed was Naser Mohammadkhani’s testimony. He confessed that Ms. Jahed had a key to his house, which he shared with Ms. Saharkhizan, and had been there several times (Aftab News, 1 December 2010).

In addition, Ms. Saharkhizan’s mother and sister testified that an unknown woman used to call her in the middle of the night and tell her that she did not deserve to live with Naser Mohammadkhani. These phone calls continued even when Ms. Saharkhizan was on a trip. Some attributed these calls to Ms. Jahed and held it against her (BBC, 12 February 2009; Raja News, 8 December 2010).

Since Naser Mohammad Khani was in Germany, Ms. Jahed was in contact with him constantly but from 8:30 a.m. in the previous day to 10:30 a.m. of the day of the incident, she did not contact Naser Mohammadkhani even once (Aftab News, 1 December 2010).

In addition, Ms. Jahed mentioned Ms. Saharkhizan with bad nicknames in her diaries (ISNA, 1 December 2010). She used to write regularly and neatly in her diary; however, at the day of the incident, in her notebook, she crossed out many things. It seemed that she had wanted to fake events for the day (Aftab News, 1 December 2010).

Defense

Experts at the Iranian judiciary and Ms. Jahed’s lawyer, Mr. Khorramshahi, criticized the “judge knowledge” and confession of the defendant (Ebrat, 16 March 2009). In addition according to them, there were numerous flaws in the procedure and content of this case which can be categorized as the following:

1. Claim of Torture and Denial of the Confession:

Ms. Jahed denied her confession in the trial court and stated that she confessed under physical and psychological pressure at the police station. She said everybody knew under which conditions, she confessed (Red Card Documentary, Amnesty International, 1 December 2010). Also, Ms. Jahed’s sister stated that Shahla was incommunicado during her first 11 months of detention (Farhikhtegan, 20 December 2010).

None of the several courts, which tried Ms. Jahed, paid any attention to her claim of torture. She denied killing Ms. Saharkhizan and stealing her things until the last day of her life. She just accepted purchasing opium for Naser Mohammad Khani (ISNA, 1 December 2010).

As it was mentioned before, one of the judges issued an order for visitation of Ms. Jahed with Naser Mohammadkhani in the police station (Roozonline, 30 November 2010). According to Ms. Jahed and her lawyer, Naser Mohammadkhani used Ms. Jahed’s feelings for him and encouraged her to confess. According to Ms. Jahed, he told her that it was going to be his wife’s anniversary in one month and if Ms. Jahed accepted the murder, he would be freed to attend the anniversary of his wife, otherwise his reputation will be gone in the sport world (Abdolsamad Khorramshahi’s Personal Website, 27 February 2009). Ms. Jahed said in the court:

“When the police officers saw that I would not confess, they made Naser a mediator. I had not seen Naser for one year and everybody knew that I was crazy about him. A couple of days before my confessions, they showed me a picture of him blindfolded in a newspaper. I was so upset by his degradation…Everybody knew that I could not control myself in front of Naser. When we were left alone in the room, he told me that he still loved me and asked me to confess” (Red Card Documentary). According to Ms. Jahed’s cellmates, she was having long romantic conversations with Naser Mohammadkhani until the last moment. He promised her that he would get Ms. Saharkhizan’s family’s consent (Abdolsamad Khorramshahi’s Personal Website quoting Eghtesad va Zendegi Magazine, 12 March 2011). Naser Mohammadkhani declared in an interview that the Saharkhizans promised that if Ms. Jahed confessed, they would consent (Goal, 16 April 2011). Naser Mohammadkhani, himself asked the court to executed Ms. Jahed as the father of his children (ISNA, 1 December 2010). According to Iranian laws, in the case of murder, the culprit should be subjected to Qisas i.e. death punishment. It is the right of the owner of blood (the family of the victim except for the spouse) to ask for the culprit’s death or forgive him/her.

2. Deprivation of Right to Enjoy Legal Assistance of a Lawyer:

Mr. Khorramshahi also refers to the fact that he started to represent Ms. Jahed one year after she was arrested and reiterated that if a lawyer could accompany the defendant in the entire pre-trial levels, she would not have confessed like that. This deprivation of the right to enjoy the legal assistance of a lawyer was due to Article 128 of the Criminal Procedure which prevent the defendants from having a lawyer because it sets broad exception to the this right (If presence of a lawyer causes corruption), hence it prevents the presence of a lawyer at pre-trial levels in practice (Abdolsamad Khorramshahi’s Personal Website quoting Ettefaghe No, July 2010).

3. Inconsistency Between Ms. Jahed’s Confession and Other Contents in the Case and Flaws in the Investigations:

According to Mr. Khorramshahi and some other sources, Ms. Jahed’s confession was in contrary to the other issues in the case (as it will follow in the flaws in the investigation) and should be disregarded (Abdolsamad Khorramshahi’s Personal Website quoting Nasim Haraz Magazine, March 2008).

One of the police officers in charge of Ms. Jahed’s case who fled Iran, in an interview with some news agencies such as Jaras numerated some of the flaws and ambiguity of the case. He mentioned that two or three months before the incident, there were disturbances at Ms. Saharkhizan’s house; unknown individuals would throw stones at the house’s windows, but this issue was never investigated throughout the process. Moreover, shortly before the murder, the late Ms. Saharkhizan was constantly expressing fear and unease of being in the house and insisted that the family should move to Qatar (Jaras, 28 November 2010).

In addition, there are some findings in the crime scene which are not compatible with Ms. Jahed’s confession: According to this detective, Ms. Jahed confessed that she had stabbed Ms. Saharkhizan 3 times, whereas she was stabbed 27 times and the quality of these stabs are in a way that they are probably done by a male (Jaras, 28 November 2010). This issue was confirmed by the judge who was first called to the crime scene. This judge who was in charge of the case for a short period of time, believed that the culprits were a man and a woman (Etemad, 7 July 2007). Moreover, the weapon and the stolen properties have never been found. The victims’ clothes was not torn at all which is not consistent with Ms. Jahed’s confession to grapple with Ms. Saharkhizan and stabbing her (Jaras, 28 November 2010). Ms. Jahed confessed to hitting the victim with a badminton racket, but the forensic report said that the blow on the head was with something sharp not like racket. In addition, Ms. Jahed confessed that she hit the victim in the adnominal area but that is neither consistent with the forensic report (Asre-No, 15 July 2004). According to Ms. Jahed’s lawyer, she described the weapon as knife which tears, whereas the forensic report mentioned that the Ms. Saharkhizan’s neck was riddled with something like a nail (Roozonline, 1 December 2010).

According to the above-mentioned detective, there was a shirt covered in blood in the crime scene to which an owner could not be identified. There was a wet towel in the bathroom—the detectives believed that the murderer dried his/her body with it after washing her/himself, but it was never examined. In addition, there were three cigarette butts at the crime scene; on one of them, there was lipstick but not on the other two but Shahla was not a smoker. This evidence was ruined because the judge in charge of the case, travelled to Mecca and the substitute judge never issued an order to examine them (Etemad, 7 July 2007, Jaras, 28 November 2010).

Also, the blood on the walls and carpets was washed off with this excuse that if Naser Mohammadkhani came home and saw this, he would be shocked despite the fact that the crime scene should remain untouched. According to this detective, it was very curious that the detectives had not noticed the blood stain under the mattress and Ms. Jahed showed it to them in reconstruction of the crime scene (Jaras, 28 November 2010).

According to this detective, you could see the security forces role in this murder. According to him there was always a person from the Herasat (intelligence unit) of the Tehran Province Water and Wastewater Organization during the process of investigations which is very odd in the police investigations. He claimed: “The victim’s father is one of the most famous contractors in Qatar and according to late Ms. Saharkhizan and Naser Mohammadkhani, her uncle worked in Qatar intelligence system. Also, M. Saharkhizan’s suspicious contacts and her insistence to her husband for moving to Qatar, etc. These are the issues which make us think that the murder was related to intelligence issues…” (Jaras, 28 November 2010, Dwiche Welle, 1 December 2010).

This detective was off the case two months after it was opened. He believes that because he insisted to investigate the victim’s familial history and because he protested to the presence of the Herasat member, he was called off the case (Jaras, 28 November 2010).

In addition, the examiner judge of Branch 1604 of Tehran Prosecution Office numerated 10 accounts of ambiguity and flaws in the investigation of this case. His letter mostly confirmed the statements of the above-mentioned detective and added some other issues to it. For example: Ms. Jahed claimed that she called from the victim’s land phone to somewhere, such a number did not exist on the print of the victim’s home phone’s calls. Moreover, the locksmith whom Ms. Jahed claimed that she copied the keys to the victim’s house could not identify her (Vatan Emruz Daily, 13 February 2008).

This examiner judge also reiterated that semen was found in the victim’s genital which strengthened the probability of rape before the murder (Jaras, 28 November 2010). According to Ms. Saharkhizan’s lawyer, the forensic report changed in order to say that Ms. Saharkhizan “May” have been raped (Roozonline, 1 December 2010). In the letter of the Head of Judiciary to the last judge of the case, these issues were discussed (Islamic Human Rights Commission, 4 August 2008).

Mr. Khorramshahi, Ms. Jahed’s lawyer, mentioned other issues briefly which were never investigated. For example, Ms. Saharkhizan’s friend who spent the night of the incident, or the bank clerk who cashed Mr. Naser Mohammadkhani’s check for Ms. Jahed, were never interrogated (Abdolsamad Khorramshahi’s Personal Website quoting Ettefaq-e No, July 2010, Roozonline, 1 December 2010). In addition, a locksmith in the neighborhood testified that on the day of the incident, he saw a man and a woman went out of the victim’s place but the court never examined this testimony (Khabaronline, 30 November 2010).

Also, there was Mercedes Benz car in the vicinity of the victim’s house at the time of the murder but it was never examined (Abdolsamad Khorramshahi’s Personal Website quoting Ettefaq-e No, July 2010, Roozonline, 1 December 2010). Naser Mohammadkhani confirmed the existence of the car in a more recent interview. He stated: “I saw a pride or Peugeot which was watching my house closely. I even shared this with my mother-in-law. My mother in law and Laleh (the victim) also agreed. They said that they saw those men and women several times.” (Goal, 16 April, 2011) According to Ms. Jahed, the finger prints at the crime scene were never examined. There were also two hairs at the scene. It is not clear whose they were (Kayhan, 17 June 2004).

On 23 November 2010, the International Committee of Human Rights Lawyers claimed in a statement that the evidence on behalf of Ms. Jahed was not collected on purpose. This committee quoted the detective who was quoted before: “there was some evidence in favor of Ms. Jahed which were not collected purposefully...The evidence which showed Ms. Jahed was innocent was eliminated by a number of officers under the supervision of the Deputy of Tehran Police Chief” (Roozonline, 1 December 2010).

4. Flaws in the “judge’s knowledge”:

As it was mentioned before, Ms. Jahed’s verdict was issued on the basis of the “judge’s knowledge.” Mr. Khorramshahi mentioned that the “judge’s knowledge” must be obtained through normal methods (Article 120 of the Islamic Penal Code). This means that the judge should obtain his knowledge through common ways such as forensic evidence, testimonies, etc; and it should be mentioned in the verdict how he obtained that knowledge. But in Ms. Jahed’s case, the basis of this knowledge was not mentioned. The judges issued a verdict despite all the ambiguity and flaws in the case. This is even in contrary to Iranian law (Abdolsamad Khorramshahi Personal Website quoting Nasim Haraz Magazine, March 2008).

5. Flaws in the Procedure:

According to Mr. Khorramshahi, Ms. Jahed’s lawyer, she was named as the murderer even before the first trial; the judge of the case declared on the first day that she was the murderer and it was quoted by many media. Although the judge denied that he had ever said that, Mr. Khorramshahi claimed that these quotations are still archived by the media (Abdolsamad Khorramshahi’s Personal Website quoting Ettefaq No, July 2010).

According to Mr. Khorramshahi, after the mistrial and repealing the procedure, the judge should restart investigations and collecting data; but in this case, the judge refused to do so and issued the verdict according to his “knowledge.” Although the case had numerous flaws, the verdict was issued disregarding the flaws and only in two days (ISNA, 1 December 2010). For example, the Head of Judiciary sent 14 pages of flaws and ambiguities in the case to the judge but none of them were considered (Islamic Human Rights Commission, 4 August 2008).

6. Other Flaws:

Ms. Jahed’s lawyer believes that her behavior right after the murder is not explainable if she was the culprit because right after the murder, she went to bank, her nephew’s school, and some other places. Everybody agrees that she was not a professional criminal. Amateur criminals like her, would become anxious or excited after the crime and cannot act normally (Abdolsamad Khorramshahi’s Personal Website quoting Nasim Haraz Magazine, March 2008).

Judgment

Branch 1154 of the Provincial Criminal Court of Tehran sentenced Ms. Jahed to death for Ms. Saharkhizan’s murder, to three years of imprisonment, returning the properties for theft, 74 lashes of flogging, and 5000 dollars fine for purchasing opium. Regarding her charges of illegitimate affair, she was exonerated since she and Nader Mohammad Khani were temporarily man and wife (Fars News, 10 January 2007). This verdict was upheld in Branch 15 of the Supreme Court and in previous rulings from other courts. Therefore, the sentence could not be mitigated (Amnesty International, 23, 30 November and 1 December 2010).

At last, the judge presiding Branch 1114 of Be’sat Judicial Complex denied the mistrial. He said in his verdict that the objection of the defendant’s lawyer was not sustained and trial court’s ground to issue the verdict i.e. the confession, the crime scene reconstruction, and the judge’s knowledge were not erroneous; therefore, the verdict was upheld (Roozonline, 30 November 2010, Raja News, 8 December 2010).

Abdolasamad Khorramshahi criticized the officials’ manner of his client’s execution. He said that he heard the date of her execution in the news; he called the prosecution office, but they denied the news. Days after that, at 11 a.m. on 30 November 2010, he was informed by phone about the execution which was going to happen in less than 24 hours. But according to article 5 of the Code of Execution of Verdict, the execution of Qisas should be informed to the lawyer 48 hours before the execution (Sharq, 1 December 2010).

There was a session of negotiations in order to get the consent of the family of the victim on 30 November 2010 at Executive Branch of the Prosecution Office, but there was no result. Only the family of the victim and their lawyers were present and the defendant, her family or her lawyer were not invited to the session.

The execution was carried out at dawn on 1 December 2010 in presence of the victim’s family and Naser Mohammadkhani, Ms. Jahed’s lawyer, and others. Ms. Jahed said her prayers before the execution. Lastly, she willed her properties. At 5:45 a.m. the rope was put around her neck and the verdict was read out. After that Ms. Saharkhizan’s brother, acting as the representative of the victim’s family, pulled the stool under Ms. Jahed’s feet and killed her (ISNA, 1 December 2010, Amnesty International 1 December 2010).

_____________________________________________________________

(1) ISNA (1 December 2010), Farhikhtegan (1 December 2010), Fars News Agency (24 September 2006), Roozonline (29, 30 November and 1 December 2010), Etemad (7 July 2007), Asre No (15 July 2004), Vatan Emruz Daily (13 February 2008), Kayhan (17 June 2004), International Committee of Human Rights Lawyers (23 November 2010), Khabaronline (30 November 2010), Raja News (8 December 2010).

(2) According to Article 205 of the Penal Code, all the Qisas cases must be authorized by the Head of the Judiciary.

(3) Legal Explanation: according to former Article 18 of the Criminal Procedure, the Head of the Judiciary had the power to declare a mistrial and move for a new trial –the current Article 18 also gives the Head of the Judiciary the same power with more restrictions.

(4) According to Article 188 of the Criminal Procedure, trials must be held publicly unless they fall within the meaning of one of the defined exception in the code, i.e. against public morality, religion, national security or are regarding private and family issues of individuals at the parties’ request.

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