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

Mohammad Musavi


Age: 20
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Single


Date of Execution: April 23, 2007
Location: Shiraz Central Prison (Adelabad), Shiraz, Fars Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Murder
Age at time of offense: 16

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 may have been violated in this case:

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 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 the right to legal aid. The right to communicate with one’s attorney in confidence

ICCPR, Article 14.3.b and Article 14.3.d; Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, Article 1, Article 2, Article 5, Article 6, Article 8.

The right to adequate time and facilities for the preparation of the defence case.

ICCPR, Article 14.3.b.

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.

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 14.1, Article 14.3.c.

The right to defence through an attorney 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 prosecution witnesses.

ICCPR, Article 14.3.d and Article 14.3.e.

The right to have the decision rendered in public.

ICCPR, Article 14.1.

Judgment rights

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.

The right of a person not to be subjected to capital punishment for an offence committed before the age of eighteen. The right not to be subjected to capital punishment while pregnant.

ICCPR, Article 6.5; Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 37.a.

About this Case

Mr. Musavi was only 16 at the time of crime and a student at a vocational high school.

News of the execution of Mr. Mohammad Musavi was published on the websites of the E’temad Melli newspaper on June 8, and Farsnegar on July 2, 2007. Additional information was taken from the websites of the Hamshahri newspaper on May 12, 2005, ISNA (Iranian Students News Agency) on April 29, 2005,  and Amnesty International on October 26, 2006.

This case was related to a street fight that resulted in the murder of a 21-year-old man in Shiraz in 2002. Mr. Musavi was 16 years old at the time and a student at a vocational high school.

International laws have strictly prohibited capital punishment against those who were under the age of 18 at the time of committing the crime. As a party to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Iran has the obligation to avoid capital punishment for an offence committed before the age of eighteen.

In a statement published on October 26, 2006, Amnesty International demanded nullification of the death penalty for defendants under 18, including Mr. Musavi.

Arrest and Detention

According to the General Manager of the Shiraz Central Prison, Mr. Musavi entered this prison on June 3, 2003. (Farsnegar) However, the circumstances of his arrest and detention, especially the period between his arrest and entry into the prison, are not known. Mr. Musavi had been detained in the Shiraz Central Prison (Adelabad Prison) in Shiraz for four years before being executed. During this period, his mother visited the judge several times, objecting to her son’s detention at the Adelabad Prison and requesting his transfer to the Jouvenile Rehabilitation Center. The E’temad Melli newspaper quoted his mother saying: “I went before the judge of his case and told him that my son is under aged (under 18) and should not stay with adults in the Adelabad Prison. You should send him to the Rehabilitation Center. However, nobody listened to me. I tried to relocate Mohammad and have him transferred to the Center, but nobody paid attention.”

Mr. Musavi had a weekly visitation and his parents took turns visiting him. (E’temad Melli newspaper)


Mr. Musavi was tried during the first year of his imprisonment in the Shiraz Prison. (Farsnegar) Ms. Nasrin Sotudeh was his attorney. (E’temad Melli newspaper) No information is available on his trial.


The charge against Mr. Musavi was announced as "murder."

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. Musavi. According to his father, several other people had been present and Mr. Musavi was also beaten during the fight. However, there is no information about whether these witnesses had been questioned during the trial.


Mr. Musavi insisted that the killing was unintentional. According to his mother, in order to defend his father and reacting to the victim brandishing a knife, Mr. Musavi hit the victim with a knife in an instant. (ISNA)

Mr. Musavi's mother: "I went before the judge of his case and told him that my son is under aged (under 18) and should not stay with adults in the Adelabad Prison. You should send him to the Jouvenile Rehabilitation Center. However, nobody listened to me." 

According to his father, on the day of the incident, Mr. Musavi had gone to see a friend to solve some math problems but, a few minutes later, he came back hastily, went to the kitchen, took a knife, and said: ‘Kids have surrounded me and insulted my honor.’ Mr. Musavi’s father went outside along with him and asked the kids to end the fight and go home. He took his son’s hand and returned toward home. At this moment, the victim attacked them. His father described the situation as follows: “I stood in front of Mohammad and said: ‘He is my son. He is only 16 years old. You fought and it’s done. But Hamid [the victim] yelled: ”I’ll kill Mohammad," and went towards him with a knife. He hit his hand and when I tried to stop him, he hit my hand too. Mohammad became angry and held the knife up. Hamid was taller and when he bent over, the knife cut his throat. He fell on the ground. After this, Mohammad escaped and other kids began to bite me. When we went to the court, they [officials] told me to forget filing any complaints against the kids and just try to get the family’s pardon.” (Hamshahri newspaper)

In defending her client, Ms. Sotudeh referred to the Article 377 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and stated: “After joining the Convention on the Rights of the Child, it is expected that Iran abolish death penalty against those individuals who were under 18 years old when committing a crime, according to the clear statement in the Article 377. Additionally, we have heard many times from the judicial authorities that confirmation for execution rulings would not be issued when individuals were under 18 years old when committing a crime. Such promises should be honored.” (E’temad Melli newspaper)

A Summary of the Defects of Mr. Mohammad Musavi’s Legal Proceedings

In an article in the E’temad Melli newspaper on June 8, 2007, Mr. Ne’mat Ahmadi, an attorney, confirmed that in 1994 Iran signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child adopted on November 20, 1989. He referred to some problems of the Islamic Penal Code, criticized the ruling against Mr. Musavi, and wrote: “Not punishing a person because of being underage and waiting for the individual to reach legal age to be punished, is against the law. Because, based on reason, logic, and legal process, the criterion to determine an individual’s age is the date of committing a crime. In the statement number 3706/7 on September 21, 1994, the Legal Department of the Judiciary also stated that when a defendant is underage at the time of committing a crime and becomes an adult during the trial, the underage laws apply to him/her, meaning that the age of the defendant when committing the crime is credible during the trial.” He also referred to Chapter Five of the Code of Criminal Procedure and stated: “The Code of Criminal Procedure has separated the process to prosecute children from adults and directed that several branches of public courts in each judicial district should be assigned to children's crimes and, according to the note of Article 220 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, all crimes committed by those who are under 18 years old should be tried at the children's courts based on the public laws. We know that after reassignment of the Public Prosecution’s Office, the Provincial Criminal Courts were established, consisting of five judges. In addition to various responsibilities, these courts have exclusive jurisdiction in murder cases meaning that five judges should try a murder case. There is a contradiction between the first note on Article 220 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and the law to reassign the Public Prosecution’s Office regarding crimes perpetuated by children that needs to be addressed. Iran is the only country with laws taken from Shari’a (religion) and there is an Expediency Council that decides on issues based on the regime’s interest as a model for Islamic societies and should resolve the issue of the puberty age based on time requirements in order to avoid irresolvable issues.”

During an interview with ISNA, Ali Najafi Tavana, a professor, criminologist, and pathologist, pointed out the discrepancies among jurists regarding the puberty age and emphasized that the puberty age in religion should be defined in laws. According to Mr. Najafi Tavana, “In regards to punishment, the law has indicated the puberty age and not the Shari’a puberty age; however, in reality, the Shari’a puberty age is considered.” According to him, the death penalty ruling against children under 18 is the result of a superficial interpretation of laws by judges. “A nine-year-old girl or a 15-year-old boy is still a child and could not understand social values and issues and has no ability to analyze and discriminate.” According to Mr. Najafi Tavana, the death penalty ruling against children under 18 is also the result of a kind of legal pressure: “Against the legal pressure, public opinion pressure requires that these execution rulings are not carried out. A question needs to be answered by the judge: while he believes the under 18-year-old child deserves to be executed, why is his sentence postponed? Is there any other reason beside his knowledge of illogic of the ruling?”

During an interview with ISNA, Ms. Sotudeh, a member of the Society for Protecting the Rights of the Child, referred to the general bill for the children's courts ratified on January 3, 2005, and stated: “It was expected that all death penalty rulings against under 18-year-old individuals would stop until the bill is decided by the Parliament. However, we continue to receive reports that the procedures to execute these children are going forward and sometimes they are not carried out due only to the pardon by the victims’ families. Whereas it is expected that with such an important issue related to strategic policies, it ought not to be left to individuals to decide to pardon or not to pardon.”

In addition, Dr. Ardebili, a pathologist professor, referred to the fact that according to the Islamic Republic criminal system, maturity is a sign of criminal responsibility; therefore, according to the law, if a 15-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl commit a crime, he or she will be punished. “There is a belief in our legal system reflected in the draft law discussed in the parliament for children’s crimes. According to this draft law, judicial authorities tried to avoid condemning children under 18 to the death penalty as much as possible by conditioning it on an investigation into the adolescent’s [mental] condition. Because, in our criminal system, an individual is responsible only when he or she is of a sound mind. According to this, if the judge recognizes that the adolescent had no judgment, he or she will not be considered fit for punishment.”       

According to Mr. Ardebili, not deserving to be executed does not mean the criminal child should be left alone. “There should be a suitable punishment according to his/her personality in order to reform him/her.” He emphasized the point that the characteristics of an adolescent do not necessarily reflect his/her maturity. “There should be an investigation. Otherwise, there will be injustice regarding an adolescent who has committed a crime involuntarily. Therefore, the judicial system should resolve the issues wisely and without haste.”

Given that the law for children's courts was not approved at the time of the ruling against Mr. Musavi, efforts to convince the victim’s family to pardon him were the only possible legal path suggested by Dr. Ardebili.


The court condemned Mr. Mohammad Musavi to death and the ruling was confirmed by the Supreme Court. He was informed of the ruling on May 31, 2004, and the ruling was validated on June 18, 2004. He was hanged at the Adelabad Prison in Shiraz on April 23, 2007.

According to Mr. Musavi’s mother, authorities did not inform his family or his attorney before the execution was carried out. A cellmate and an agent informed his family after their going to the prison. Prison authorities asked Mr. Musavi’s family to go to the forensics office to receive his body. He was buried at the Daralrahmeh cemetery in Shiraz. Mr. Musavi was 20 years old.  

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