Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Abdolreza Gharabat


Age: 52
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Unknown


Date of Killing: January 26, 2011
Location of Killing: Ahvaz, Khuzestan Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Apostasy; Corruption on earth

About this Case

News of the execution of Mr. Abdolreza Gharabat was published on the websites of Fars news agency on January 31, Al Arabiya on January 29, HRANA (Human Rights Activists News Agency) on January 28, and Human Rights and Democracy Activists in Iran on February 1, 2011.        

Mr. Abdolreza Gharabat, known as Sa’ed, joined the Revolutionary Guards in 1980 and stayed with them until 2002. His final position was Sardar (General). Several members of his family were killed and he was injured during the Iran-Iraq war. He suffered from what was called the “wave syndrome.” He also suffered from severe psychological distress. He was commander of the Vali’asr Division located on the Ahavaz-Andimesh road. He retired in 2002 and began teaching ethics. (Human Rights and Democracy Activists in Iran)

According to Human Rights and Democracy Activists in Iran, he had been arrested twice before. The first time he was arrested by agents of the Intelligence Ministry and transferred to Golf detention center in Ahvaz for two months in1998. The second time he was arrested in 2005 and transferred to Shushtar prison where he was detained for ten months.

According to Al Arabiya, quoting a family member of Mr. Gharabat, “After the war was over, Abdolreza talked about his connection with the Occult Imam and claimed that he was dissatisfied with the regime under the leadership of Ayatollah Khamenei. His followers gradually increased, and several hundred individuals from various cities contacted him and created a group known as ‘Conduct and Journey.’” According to this family member, the activities of the group discontinued after targeting the leader of the Islamic Republic. Mr. Abdolreza Gharabat was exiled to Ahvaz. 

Existing reports indicate that authorities in the Islamic Republic had been very sensitive regarding the case of Mr. Gharabat. As an example, Mohseni Eje’i, the Chief Public Prosecutor, referred to this execution in Ahvaz and associated him with the deviant groups.     

Arrest and Detention

Mr. Gharabat was arrested for the last time on the road between Hamidieh and Ahvaz in 2007. He was transferred to the Karun prison in Ahvaz and detained there until he was executed. According to his family, they were rarely able to visit him. (Human Rights and Democracy Activists in Iran)


According to the Fars news agency, the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Ahvaz tried Mr. Gharabat. (Some other sources indicated that the Special Cleric Court tried him.) No information is available on his trial. The media was not allowed to cover this case. According to the official Fars news agency, “the reporter of Fars in Ahvaz tried unsuccessfully to get more information from the Public Prosecutor or other officials about this case. The Head of Public Relations Office of the Khuzestan Courthouse offered the possibility of interviewing the Public Prosecutor and providing information to a new reference for the Fars reporter, who was known to them, and requesting a permit from the higher ranking officials of the judiciary.”     


The charges against Mr. Gharabat were announced as "apostate and encouraging corruption." (Fars News- January 31, 2011)    

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 report of this execution did not provide any specific information on the evidence presented against Mr. Gharabat. According to the state media and officials, he was accused of claiming a connection with the Occult Imam and creating deviant groups.


No information is available on Mr. Gharabat's defense. According to the existing reports, it seems that he was only prosecuted for expressing his beliefs and having followers. According to Al Arabiya, quoting a family member of Mr. Abdolreza Gharabat, “We heard the news of Abdolreza’s execution from the media. … We did not expect him to be executed because he served well during the war. … During the Shah’s regime, Abdolreza had no religious tendency. However, after the revolution and the start of the war, he became a member of the Revoutionary Guards and had a continuous presence at the front line during eight years war.”

This family member added, “After the war was over, Abdolreza talked about his connection with the Occult Imam and announced that the Imam is not satisfied with the regime led by Ayatollah Khamene’i. … The regime promotes ideas regarding the Occult Imam and Ahmadinejad has claimed directly and indirectly having contact with the Occult Imam several times on television. … Why have they just executed our son?”     

A Summary of the Legal Defects in the Adjudication of Mr. Abdolreza Gharabat’s Case

According to what little information has been published regarding this case, Mr. Gharabat was opposed to the Leader of the Revolution, and had also gathered some followers. There was no mention of any armed or violent activities by him or his followers in any statements made by government officials. His activities were, therefore, completely peaceful. Nevertheless, he was convicted of crimes such as apostasy. In all probability, his claims of being in contact with the Imam of Time (the Twelfth Shi’a Imam, descendent of the Prophet Mohammad, who is said to have disappeared only to reappear at some point to guide humanity to salvation) was the basis for the issuance of such a sentence, whereas, first, there is no crime of apostasy in Iranian laws, and neither the elements of an act constituting a crime, nor the punishment therefor, has been prescribed anywhere. Of course, the law provides that, in cases where the law does not provide a solution, judges must refer to Shari’a law (Principle 167 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran). Apostasy is defined in Shari’a law as leaving [and rejecting] Islam, and leaving Islam occurs when a person rejects Towhid (“monotheism, belief in a single God”), Ma’ad (“belief in resurrection, the day of judgment”), and Nabovvat (“belief that the Prophet Mohammad is God’s Messenger”). Therefore, even a claim of having contact with Shi’a Imams or God’s messengers, or even God himself, cannot be considered a reason for treating a person as an apostate. It seems, therefore, that the court’s ruling lacked a legal or religious foundation and/or validity.

According to published reports, judicial authorities refused to provide the media and the family with any information regarding the case. Even after his execution, Mr. Gharabat’s body was buried in secret by agents of the Ministry of Information without his family’s knowledge. In addition to the fact the right to freedom of speech and the right to free access to information require that such access to information not be impeded in important cases, the family also had the right to visit with Mr. Gharabat, and his body must necessarily have been turned over to them. In other words, no one other than the family has the legal authority to bury the deceased. This level of secretiveness creates all kinds of doubts and misgivings [about the legality of these actions]. According to Article 18 of the “Regulations on the Manner of Implementation of Qesas, (“Retributive death sentence”), Stoning, Murder, Crucifixion,  Execution, and Flogging Sentences as Provided for in Article 293 of the Law on the General and Revolutionary Courts Rules of Criminal Procedure of 2003” “once the sentence has been carried out and the Medical Examiner or a trusted physician has determined with certainty that death has occurred, the deceased’s body shall be taken from the place the sentence was carried out and shall be turned over to the Office of the Medical Examiner. In the event that the convict’s [family and next of kin] ask for the body, the deceased’s body shall be relinquished to them upon a determination and order of the judicial authority in charge of implementation of the sentence; otherwise, the body shall be buried in accordance with the applicable legal and religious regulations. In the latter case, all burial expenses shall be borne by Beit-ol-Mal (“the Government funds”).”


The court condemned Mr. Abdolreza Gharabat to death and the Supreme Court confirmed the ruling. He was hanged in Karun Prison in Ahvaz on January 26, 2011. His family members were informed by the media and were not allowed to say farewell before the execution. His body was buried by agents of the Intelligence Ministry far from his birthplace in a place called Brumir, in Ahvaz, at night. (Human Rights and Democracy Activists in Iran) Mr. Abdolreza Gharabat was 52 years old.          

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