Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Jamshid A'lam


Age: 74
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam (Shi'a)
Civil Status: Married


Date of Killing: September 24, 1979
Location of Killing: Evin Prison, Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Shooting
Charges: Unspecified offense; Association with the Shah's idolatrous regime

About this Case


The execution of Prof. Jamshid A’lam was reported in the Kayhan Daily, 24 September 1979. From 19-24 September, Kayhan reported on the trial of the three defendants. Additional information regarding this case was collected from Mr. Mohsen Khadjehnouri’s case by the  Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation (ABF) and an interview with Dr. Heidarqoli Boroumand (Foundation for Iranian Studies, 6 August 1985), Kayhan Daily (17 June 1979), Aftab Website (17 August 2007), Ayatollah Falsafi’s Memoir (pages 232-238: Fars News, 8 February 2004). Iranian National Radio also declared Prof. A’lam’s execution on 24 September 1979.

Prof. A’lam was a senator for four terms and also was a Member of Parliament under the Shah Regime. He had a medical degree specializing in Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) from the University of Lyon in France. He was the Shah’s doctor, and the head of Farabi and Amir A’lam Hospitals in Tehran. There are still some books by him in the Library of the University of Tehran (Aftab, 17 August 1979, Kayhan, 18 August 1979). 

It is noteworthy that Prof. A’lam’s name was indexed in a list of people whose properties were confiscated. On 17 June 1979, Kayhan Daily published a list of 54 people whose bank accounts including checking and saving accounts and other deposits were blocked by the Revolutionary government (Kayhan, 17 June 1979). 

Arrest and detention

Prof. A’lam was arrested by the Revolutionary Guards between the 28thand 30thof April 1979 and surrendered to Qasr Prison (Kayhan, 30 April 1979).  (According to Dr. Heidar Qoli Boroumand who was his cellmate for a short time, Prof. A’lam was jailed in Temporary Ward No. 2 of this prison. This ward was a large corridor which had a number of cells. In his cell, approximately 35 inmates were kept. The condition of Qasr Prison was very poor. There were lice in some of the cells, and appropriate medical care was not provided. Many cells did not have showers (interview with Dr. Boroumand, 6 August 1985).

Ayatollah Khalkhali, a religious judge, used to go to the wards and select prisoners randomly for execution. Prof. A’lam lost his hopes. A person in his cell, with an unknown intention, was harassing him by saying “today, they are executing senators!” (Interview with Dr. Boroumand, 6 August 1985). 

The Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal of the Center held four sessions in three days to examine the case of Prof. A’lam and two other defendants. It was the first trial of the Revolutionary Tribunal of the Center after its establishment. The sum of the four sessions of the court was not more than ten hours and only one third of it was allocated to Prof. A’lam (Kayhan, 19, 20, 22 and 24 September 1979). According to the information available in the case of Mr. Khadjehnouri who was tried in the same court and under similar conditions, his trial was closed and their relatives were not allowed in (Mr. Khadjenuri’s case, ABF). 


The Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal of the Center held four sessions in three days to examine the case of Prof. A’lam and two other defendants. It was the first trial of the Revolutionary Tribunal of the Center after its establishment. The sum of the four sessions of the court was not more than ten hours and only one third of it was allocated to Prof. A’lam (Kayhan, 19, 20, 22 and 24 September 1979). According to the information available in the case of Mr. Khadjehnouri who was tried in the same court and under similar conditions, his trial was closed and their relatives were not allowed in (Mr. Khadjenuri’s case, ABF).


According to Kayhan Daily, his charges were described as follows in the prosecutor’s indictment: “He was accused of being sellout to the Pahlavi Regime and betraying the oppressed people… he cowardly ruined the culture and honor of our nation by passing anti-people acts. He actively participated in passing the Capitulation Act.” (Kayhan, 19 September 1979)

According to Kayhan Daily, the indictment also provided that “{Prof. A’lam} had a close relationship with General Nasiri (1), and after the expulsion of Iranian residents from Iraq by the Iraqi government (2), he criticized Ayatollah Khomeini harshly” (Kayhan, 19 September 1979). Prof. A’lam referred to Khomeini without naming him as the clergies who do not cooperate with Shah and criticized him. This speech was protested by Ayatollah Falsafi and as a result he was barred from giving speech in public (Ayatollah Falsafi’s Memoir).

The indictment continued; “in addition, he was enjoying all the privileges of the Shah’s Court” (Kayhan, 19 September 1979).

The prosecutor also accused the defendant of voting for the former regime’s proposals and bills. According to the prosecutor’s indictment, he stated in the interrogations that he agreed with the bills made by the government, because they were selected by Shah. He was also convicted of connection to Sha’ban Ja’fari (one of the Shah’s claimed elements). Allegedly when Sha’ban Ja’fari was making unrest and fraud in an election in Qazvin, Prof. A’lam encouraged and even financially supported him (Kayhan, 22 September 1979).

According to the prosecutor’s indictment, Prof. A’lam confirmed the killing of people on 8 September 1978 (3). According to Kayhan, once when Mr. Azhari (one of the Prime Ministers of Shah) was giving a speech in the Senate, Prof. A’lam interrupted him by saying: “Should we do nothing or should we stop the sabotage by any means? Should a policeman not be able to shoot?” The prosecutor alleged that he said the police should fire at people (Kayhan, 19 September 1979). The governmental radio of Iran declared Prof. A’lam’s execution as the execution of a person who was responsible of a mass murder (Kayhan, 22 September 1979).

He also was convicted of giving speech in favor of Shah, calling him “the man of peace in the world” and said, “If we were supposed to choose one man for the peace in the world, there would be no one more appropriate for the position than Shah.” (Kayhan, 22 September 1979) 

Prof. A’lam refused the accusation of enjoyment of privileges of the Shah’s court. He reiterated that his connection with Shah was merely a relationship between a doctor and a patient, and he was not paid in return for his medical care. He used to do these services free of charge (Kayhan, 20 September 1979).

Evidence of guilt

There is nothing about the evidence of guilt of Prof. A’lam. The newspaper just briefly mentioned the testimony of one person (Kayhan, 22 September 1979). 

Additionally, according to Kayhan, one piece of evidence against the defendant regarding to the connection to General Nasiri was merely a picture (Kayhan, 20 September 1979).

It seems that in some cases, the evidence against Prof. A’lam were his own statements in his interrogations such as voting in favor of the bills by the governments (Kayhan, 22 September 1979).

At the beginning of the trial, the judge explained the punishment for “waging war on God” and “corruption on earth”. It is clear that these crimes had been established recently but applied retroactively to the crimes which had been committed years ago (Kayhan, 19 September 1979). With regard to his accusation of membership in the former regime, Prof. A’lam also said that the penal provisions cannot be retroactive. Association within the Senate has not been a crime: “I used to be a senator for four terms in the senate. Even if being a senator were a crime, Imam Khomeini issued a pardon for that. In consequence, I am innocent.” (Kayhan, 20 September 1979)


Considering the report of Kayhan and the testimony of Mr. Khadjehnouri’s relatives, it seems that all of the defendants in the courtroom including Prof. A’lam were deprived of legal assistance of a lawyer. According to Kayhan, Prof A’lam declared at the beginning of court procedure that due to his physical conditions, he was not able to defend himself, but apparently this was totally ignored by the court (Kayhan, 19 September 1979). According to the case of Mr. Khadjehnouri who was on the same trial, the defendant was not allowed to summon witnesses who volunteered to testify in his favor; they were not allowed in the courtroom (Mr. Khadjehnouri’s case, ABF).

From the conversation between the religious judge and the other defendants other than Prof. A’lam at the same trial, it seems that the judge was playing the prosecutor’s role as well and addressed the defendants accusingly. For example, he told one of the defendants who was also a senator: “You were a senator in 1963 when the Ayatollahs boycotted the election. You ran for the parliament election with the intention of waging war on God and corruption on earth…” At this moment, Prof. A’lam asked: “When was this statement issued?” The judge refused to answer this question saying that “You did not care to find out about this statement!” Prof. A’lam implicitly answered that he did not know about the statement, and that he was dubious about its existence (Kayhan, 19 September 1979).

Some parts of his defense were published in Kayhan Daily as follows:

He also refused his connection with Sha’ban Ja’fari and mentioned that the witness might have mistaken him for another person; however, it seems that the witness was not present in the courtroom and he could not challenge or question him: “About the testimony against me regarding Sha’ban Ja’fari, I should say that I have never known someone with this name. Also, I did not have enough money to pay him. All of my saving in my whole life is a house. He might mistake me for A’lam.” (Kayhan, 22 September 1979)

About giving speech in favor of Shah, he said that: “About the speech in favor of Shah, I should say that as far as I can recall I have never talked about Shah and peace.” In regards to confirming Azhari’s speech in the senate, he said: “I did not say ‘shoot people’ but I said ‘disperse them’.” After that, Azhari never came to the Senate again so that I could question him about the massacre.” (Kayhan, 22 September 1979) It is not clear how Prof. A’lam conspired in the killing since he was a mere senator at the time and to what was the evidence attributing the crime to him beyond reasonable doubt as it is required in criminal cases.

It seems that this speech was merely in objection to his passivity to the compulsion of Iranians from Iraq (Ayatollah Falsafi’s Memoir). Prof. A’lam said in defense that he had no role in barring Mr. Falsafi from preaching and SAVAK did that. He also said: “Mr. Falsafi insulted me several times in his preaching, but this time he talked about the Shah so SAVAK barred him from preaching” (Kayhan, 20 September 1979).

He refused the relation with Mr. Nasiri which seems to be based solely on a photograph and said that he took that photograph because he wanted to meet Shah at an occasion, and he had to take a picture with Nasiri before the meeting. (Kayhan, 20 September 1979) He also narrated that he also had problem with SAVAK, and once he was dismissed from a hospital’s presidency due to trivial problem with SAVAK (Kayhan, 22 September 1979).

He submitted a letter sealed by the Campaign of Welcoming Imam providing that he was pardoned by Imam and he should not be disturbed or defamed. Finally, he requested pardon due to his senility and sickness (Kayhan, 22 September 1979).

A Summary of the Defects of Mr. Jamshid A’lam’s Legal Proceedings

According to available information, the basis for all of the charges brought against Mr. Aalam was his lawful activities as a member of the Senate under the Pahlavi regime. His contacts with the Shah or the head of the SAVAK (the country’s security and information organization under the Shah), which was an otherwise normal activity for a Senator, was presented as evidence of crime, whereas nowhere in the indictment or at trial, was any evidence presented showing that as a Senator, he had played a role in killing protesters before the Revolution. Mr. Aalam was charged with Efsad fel-Arz (“spreading corruption on Earth”) and Moharebeh (“waging war against God”). According to Islamic jurisprudence rules cited by the courts at the time, Moharebeh consists of taking up arms with the intention of creating fear and apprehension in the populace and initiating killings. In other words, Mohareb is a person who takes up arms with the intention of fighting God or the Islamic government. According to reports published in Kayhan newspaper, judicial authorities were not able to prove that Mr. Aalam played a role in fighting the revolutionaries. He was just a Senator and did not have any authority in dealing with protesters or in ordering the use of arms against them. The Defendant’s assertions in his own defense were left unanswered at trial, and no convincing evidence was presented in proving the charges. Additionally, in spite of the fact that Mr. Aalam had asked for an attorney and had stated that he was not able to defend himself due to illness and incapacity, the court did not take any of that into consideration. In accordance with the law, the Defendant had the right to legal representation and the court could not deprive him of that right. It seems, generally, that Mr. Aalam’s death sentence was solely handed down as revenge, and that it had no basis in Islamic jurisprudence or the law.


After four sessions and three days of discussion about the accusations, the Islamic Revolutionary Court of the Center declared Prof. A’lam guilty of “corruption on earth” and “waging war against God”; he was sentenced to death. The decision was executed at 2:00 a.m. on 24 September 1979 (Kayhan, 24 September 1979). His body was delivered to the morgue at 2:30 a.m. and the family was supposed to retrieve it (Kayhan, 24 September 1979).


1. The third head of SAVAK, the intelligence organization of Shah 

2. In the ‘70s, Iranian residents of Iraq were expulsed from this country’s territory following the escalation of the hostilities among Iran and Iraq. 

3. On this day, some of the revolutionists were killed in Zhaleh Circle in Tehran 

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