Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Mohammad Musavi

About

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

Case

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

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)

Trial

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.

Charges

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.

Defense

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.

Judgment

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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