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

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.


Detentions, interrogations, and trials: 1979-1980

Pre-trial detentions

The charges upon which the accused were arraigned were often extremely broad. Defendants generally had no access to legal counsel nor to their file and the evidence against them prior to the trial.


Witnesses might be called, or the statement of persons with relevant information read into the court’s record. Accusation witnesses could come forward the day of the trial to give evidence against the accused, but in most cases, defense witnesses were not allowed in court. There was no automatic right of a defendant to cross-examine witnesses or to know the source of the evidence against him. The defendant had an opportunity to state his side of the matter and attempt to refute what was said against him, but the final decision was solely up to the discretion of the religious judge.

Appeal processes

The judgments of the Revolutionary Courts were not subject to appeal. The convicts were generally executed within a few hours of the judgment.

Human rights violations

Based on the available information, some or all of the following human rights may 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 not to be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honor and reputation.

    UDHR, Article 12, ICCPR, Article 17.1.

  • The right not to be punished for any crime on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offence, under national or international law, at the time it was committed.

    UDHR, Article 11.2; ICCPR, Article 15, Article 6.2.

  • 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 peaceful assembly.

    UDHR, Article 20; ICCPR, Article 21.

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

    UDHR, Article 20; ICCPR, Article 22.1.

  • The right, as a member of a religious or ethnic minority, to enjoy one’s own culture or to profess and practice one’s own religion.

    UDHR, Article 20; ICCPR, Article 27.

  • The right to equality before the law and the right to equal protection of the law.

    UDHR, Article 7; ICCPR, Article 26.

The right to due process

  • The right to be presumed innocent until found guilty by a competent and impartial tribunal in accordance with law.

    ICCPR, Article 14.1 and Article 14.2.

Pre-trial 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 the right to legal aid. The right to communicate with one’s own 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.

Trial rights

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

      ICCPR, Article 14.1, Article 14.3.c.

    • The right to defense through assistance of his or her own choosing or legal aid. The right to examine, or have examined, the witnesses against one and to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on one’s behalf under the same conditions as witnesses against him.

ICCPR, Article 14.3.e.

  • The right to have the decision rendered in public.

    ICCPR, Article 14.1.

Judgment rights

  • The right to appeal to a court of higher jurisdiction.

    ICCPR, Article 14.5.

  • 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.

  • The right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.

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

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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