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

Mahafarid AmirKhosravi

About

Age: 45
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam (Shi'a)
Civil Status: Married

Case

Date of Execution: May 24, 2014
Location: Evin Prison, Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Execution: Hanging
Charges: Unspecified economic offense; Plundering of national treasury; Corruption on earth

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 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 ۱۲, ICCPR, Article ۱۷.۱.

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

UDHR, Article ۷; ICCPR, Article ۲۶.

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 ۱۴.۱ and Article ۱۴.۲.

Pre-trial detention rights

  • The right to know promptly and in detail the nature and cause of the charges against one.

UDHR, Article ۹(۲); ICCPR, Article ۹.۲ and Article ۱۴.۳.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 ۱۴.۳.b and Article ۱۴.۳.d; Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, Article ۱, Article ۲, Article ۵, Article ۶, and Article ۸.

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

ICCPR, Article ۱۴.۳.b.

  • The right not to be compelled to testify against oneself or to confess to guilt.

ICCPR, Article ۱۴.۳.g.

  • The right not to be subjected to torture and to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

ICCPR, Article ۷; Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Article ۱ and Article ۲.

Trial rights

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

ICCPR, Article ۱۴.۱, Article ۱۴.۳.c.

  • The right to examine, or have examined, the witnesses against one, and the right to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on one’s behalf under the same conditions as prosecution witnesses.

ICCPR, Article ۱۴.۳.d and Article ۱۴.۳.e.

  • The right to have the decision rendered in public.

ICCPR, Article ۱۴.۱.

Judgment rights

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

ICCPR, Article ۱۴.۵.

  • The right to seek pardon or commutation of sentence.

ICCPR, Article ۶.۴.

  • The right not to be tried or punished again for an offence for which one has already been

convicted or acquitted.

ICCPR, Article ۱۴.۷.

Capital punishment
  • The inherent right to life, of which no one shall be arbitrarily deprived.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Article ۳; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article ۶.۱; Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, Article ۱.۱, Article ۱.۲.

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

ICCPR, Article ۷; Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Article ۱ and Article ۲.

About this Case

The Economics Minister at the time declared him the country’s industrial hero and said that he had created 10,000 jobs in Iran.

News of Mr. Mahafarid AmirKhosravi’s execution was announced on May 24, 2014 by state news agencies and official sources, including the website of the Prosecutor General’s Office. Additional information about this case was gathered from published reports in the press and official news agencies on the adjudication process, interviews given by judicial authorities, interviews with Mr. AmirKhosravi’s attorney and his wife, published reports of trial sessions, and other sources.*

Mr. AmirKhosravi was from the village of Nash of [the town of] Rudbar, married, with two children. His father was a well known and wealthy figure in Rudbar and owned dozens of acres of agricultural land. (Mehregan AmirKhosravi’s letter, May 10, 2012). According to Mr. AmirKhosravi’s spouse, he was a “quiet, introverted, and solid man.” He was not after other people’s [property] and liked helping others and the people around him. He liked creating jobs and hoped to one day become president. (Qanun Newspaper, April 21, 2013).

Mr. AmirKhosravi had been a civil engineering student at [the city of] Zanjan Islamic Azad University. He did not finish college and started his business activities in the early 1990’s by buying and selling agricultural products. He expanded his activities by starting a cattle farm, establishing Rasekh Chub Company in [the village of] Siahkal in 1996-97, the Loshan Steel and Iron Company in 2002-2003, and Damash Spring Water Company in 2002-2003, with his brothers. They started the “Amir Mansur Arya Investment Company” in 2006-2007 with a 50 million Tuman initial capital investment, which had increased to 20 billion Tuman by 2008-2009. In the years that followed, Amir Mansur Arya Investment Company started or acquired close to 40 companies and manufacturing and investment complexes. For instance, in 2010-2011, in the course of privatization of state-owned companies, Mr. AmirKhosravi acquired 94.96 percent of Machine Sazi Lorestan’s stock, 95.2 percent of Fulad Iran Industrial Group’s stock, 95 percent of Railroad Line Engineering and Technical Structures (Traverse) stock, and 39.5 percent of Khuzestan Fulad Exin, as well as contracts for tens of major governmental projects, and was thus able to acquire great wealth and have the support of high-ranking government authorities and members of parliament. (Hamshahri Online, May 24, 2014).

In 2013, Forbes Magazine ranked Mr. AmirKhosravi the 290thwealthiest man in the world. (Jahan News, May 24, 2014). The Ahmadinejad administration’s Economics Minister declared him the country’s industrial hero and said that he had created 10,000 jobs in Iran. (Kalemeh, May 24, 2014).

Case Summary

In July-August 2011, a case was opened in [the city of] Ahvaz Prosecutor’s Office regarding embezzlement at Ahvaz Bank Saderat, resulting in the arrest of the Bank Saderat’s branch manager as well as Amir Mansur Arya Investment Company’s chief [in-house] legal counsel and his deputy. These arrests constituted the start of a case that was labeled “the most unprecedented” financial embezzlement and corruption case in the history of Iran, and received extensive national and international coverage. As the case picked up steam, it was transferred to the Tehran Prosecutor’s Office, and judicial investigations continued. Issuing special orders, the Head of the Judiciary put the country’s Prosecutor General in charge of supervising the investigation, and designated Judge Seraj, the Prosecutor General’s Security Deputy, as the special investigating judge. According to the case file, 2,800 billion Tuman were embezzled from the country’s banking network between 2009 and 2011-12. These acts of embezzlement had been conducted by Bank Saderat Iran and also involved six other banks (Bank Melli, Bank Saman, Bank Sepah, Bank of Industry and Mine, Bank Parsian, and the about to be established Bank Arya). In the course of investigations, Khavari, Bank Melli Iran’s president, left Iran before he could be arrested, and Bank Saderat’s president was fired. According to people in charge of the case, at least 500 individuals, including 200 accused, were investigated, resulting in at least 50 arrests. In the course of investigations, the names of many high-ranking officials and members of parliament were mentioned as accused, witnesses, or people with information, including the head of the Inspection Organization, the former Head of the Judiciary, the Expediency Council Secretary, the then-President’s Chief Administrator, the former Minister of Transportation and Roads, the former Minister of Industries, the Deputy Minister of Industries, the former Deputy President of the Central Bank, the former Deputy Minister of Economics, the former Deputy Minister of Transportation and Roads, several members of the Islamic Consultative Assembly (“Majless” or Parliament), and the children of several other members of parliament. None of these high-ranking officials were summoned to court as a witness or an accused. According to the case judge’s [statement] during the 12thcourt session, 165 cases had been opened regarding officials and individuals involved in the case, but nothing was published regarding any investigations or what ultimately happened in those cases.

The follow up to this case led to unprecedented tension between high-ranking officials of the Ahmadinejad administration and their critics within the regime, so much so that eleven Majless deputies wanted to bring charges against the President and his entourage to the Principle 90 Commission.** As the antagonism between the different factions involved in the case intensified, Ayatollah Khamenei overtly stepped in and ordered an end to the arguments, and said that the media “must not draw the case out” and that “continuing the fuss and the commotion” surrounding the case “was not prudent.” (Radio Farda, October 3, 2011).

39 of the individuals accused in the case were tried in 15 public sessions by the Tehran Revolutionary Court in the course of six months, from February 18, 2012 to July 2012. During the course of the trial, certain other aspects of this financial case were revealed, which showed that in addition to embezzlement of bank resources, extensive acts of money laundering, bribery, corruption in granting government contracts, illegal sale of government-owned companies, appropriation of state-owned land and public property and political corruption had occurred with the cooperation of high-ranking officials.

As the antagonism between the different factions involved in the case intensified, Ayatollah Khamenei overtly stepped in and ordered an end to the arguments, and said that the media “must not draw the case out” and that “continuing the fuss and the commotion” surrounding the case “was not prudent.”

Two key individuals died under suspicious circumstances in the course of adjudication. An individual identified as “R”, who, according to the judge in the case, was like “the black box”, died before trial. The court did not inquire as to the manner of his death, and no further information was revealed about his identity, except that one of the defendants who called himself “one of the spearheads of the fight against the 2009 sedition” and “one of the Leader’s children in the University [dormitories] crisis [of the 1999 fighting and killing of college students]” labeled Mr. “R” as the holder of the secrets of the case. (Eighth court session). Another individual named “Masud Movahedian”*** died a few days after his name was mentioned by the main defendant in the 12thcourt session. In response to Mr. AmirKhosravi’s attorney’s request for an investigation into Mr. Mohavedian’s death, the judge stated that he had died of a heart attack. (Thirteenth court session).

Arrest and Detention

There are ambiguities concerning Mr. AmirKhosravi’s exact date of arrest. In the court session, the Prosecutor’s Representative declared the date of his arrest to be August 7, 2011, whereas Mr. AmirKhosravi’s attorney stated it to be August 8. According to Mr. AmirKhosravi himself, the warrant for his arrest had been issued on Friday, August 5. (Twelfth session). According to a Hamshahri Online report, subsequent to a meeting at the Bank Saderat Headquarters [in Tehran], Mr. AmirKhosravi and Arya Company’s deputy for legal affairs were arrested by agents that had been dispatched from Ahvaz to Tehran with a judicial proxy order, and were taken to Ahvaz. About two months later, when the case was transferred to the Tehran jurisdiction, the defendants were transferred to Tehran as well. Mr. AmirKhosravi and the other defendants in the case were kept in Evin Prison’s Ward 240 solitary confinement cells for months. He was deprived of the right of access to and meeting with his attorney and his family. According to Mr. AmirKhosravi’s wife, the officials allowed a visit with his family for the first time after five months.

In court, the Prosecutor’s Representative declared the “special interactions” between the interrogators and the defendants in the investigation stage in Ahvaz, and the Khuzestan Province Judiciary’s intervention on behalf of the defendants through “charitable work resembling certain defendants’ charitable work” to be among the reasons for transferring the case to Tehran (Twelfth court session). Both of Mr. AmirKhosravi’s wives were arrested by security forces in connection with investigation into [his actions]. His first wife was detained for 11 days and, according to her, was put under pressure to divulge to the interrogators where she kept her personal and decorative gold. (Qanun, April 21, 2013). According to the defense attorney, the Prosecutor’s Representative had kept Mr. AmirKhosravi’s second wife in detention in order to secure an irrevocable power of attorney from her regarding two properties in her name. (Twelfth court session).

Trial

Tehran Islamic Revolutionary Court Branch One tried 39 defendants in the case, including Mr. AmirKhosravi, in fifteen sessions. In addition to the defendants and their attorneys, banks’ legal representatives, Judiciary experts, and reporters from official and governmental media were also present at trial sessions. The adjudicating judge had been selected by the Head of the Judiciary’s special appointment. (Mehr, February 18, 2012).

The first court session was convened on February 18, 2012, with all defendants present; other sessions adjudicated the charges against a [specific] number of the defendants. The main trial session for Mr. AmirKhosravi, the twelfth session, was an open session which took place on May 21, 2012, with the defendant and his attorney both present. Mr. Gholamali Riahi represented Mr. AmirKhosravi. Two other attorneys representing Mr. AmirKhosravi, including Mr. Shabani, had previously resigned from their representation. (Tabnak, March 17, 2012).

In multiple sessions, Messrs. Riahi and Shabani, Mr. AmirKhosravi’s attorneys, objected to the Revolutionary Court’s jurisdiction over the case in hearing the charges of “Efsad Fel-Arz” (“Spreading corruption on Earth”) and sabotaging the economic system. Judge Seraj stated in response: “Pursuant to the Expediency Council’s 1988 resolution, this is within the Revolutionary Court’s jurisdiction, and pursuant to the Guardian Council’s interpretation, no law can overturn the Expediency Council’s enactments, and in the event of a conflict, the Expediency Council’s resolutions are binding.” He continued: “Note 6 of the Law on Saboteurs of the Economic System considers these cases within the jurisdiction of the Revolutionary Court.” Mr. Riahi considered the judge’s citing the Guardian Council opinion to be correct, but not his conclusion. In response to Mr. Riahi’s statements, Judge Seraj said there were 5 reasons why the Revolutionary Court is competent to hear the case and added: “And the sixth reason is that I came to the Revolutionary Court by the Head of the Judiciary’s special appointment, and that order has granted me jurisdiction over all submitted files.” (Fourth session).

Charges

In the second session, the judge explained the charges of corruption on earth [Efsad fel-Arz], participation in money laundering, bribery, use of forged documents, and conspiracy in forging documents to Mr. AmirKhosravi. In detailing the charges against the main defendant, the judge said: “He is accused of corruption on earth [Efsad fel-Arz] through establishment of an organized network for commission of crimes such as bribery, embezzlement, fraud, forgery and use of forged documents, in the amount of 28 trillion 544 billion 400 million Rial [about three billion dollars].”  (March 11, 2012).

According to Mr. AmirKhosravi’s attorney, the judge had found 21 defects in the indictment issued by the Prosecutor’s Office and had asked that they be rectified. (Fourth court session).

Evidence

According to available information, “a collection of documents” as well as “the confessions of the defendants implicating themselves and others” were the basis for the court decision. In the third trial session, the court’s special judge had this to say about the evidence in the case: “In this case, it is the documents that have the final say in the matter and the defendants’ confessions only shed light on the matter and are not as important as one might think.” (IRNA, March 17, 2012).

Mr. AmirKhosravi was accused of corruption on earth [Efsad fel-Arz] through establishment of an organized network for commission of crimes such as bribery, embezzlement, fraud, forgery and use of forged documents, in the amount of 28 trillion 544 billion 400 million Rial (About three billioin dollars). 

In the first trial session, the Prosecutor’s Representative stated “numerous reports by supervisory, security and economic authorities, the opinion of the three-man expert commission, investigation of the accused and persons with information, confessions of the defendants, and documents and evidence discovered from the defendant” as elements, among others, constituting proof of the charges against Mr. AmirKhosravi.

According to said Representative, reports received from various organizations, including the [Stock Exchange], the Central Bank’s Administration for Analysis and Decreed Policies, the Islamic Consultative Assembly’s Principle 90 Commission, the Ministry of Information’s General Administration for Economic Affairs, Khuzestan Province Information General Administration, and the State General Inspection Organization, emphasized sabotage of the country’s financial and economic system. The Prosecutor’s Representative stated the evidence and documentation of the charges in the indictment as follows:

“1. Corruption on earth [Efsad fel-Arz] through participation in the sabotage of the country’s economic system by conspiring to corrupt the banking system as detailed in the file, resorting to fraudulent methods and obtaining billions of Tuman in illegal funds with knowledge of the effectiveness of the same in confronting the Regime and the people, participation in great acts of fraud and illegally obtaining property in the total amount of 28 thousand 554 billion 400 million Rial, or, in customary terms, 28 trillion 554 billion 400 million Rial, through establishing and leading an organized network for the commission of crimes such as bribery, embezzlement, fraud, forgery, and use of forged documents.

2. Participating in money laundering through using the proceeds of the crime of opening 136 letters of credit at Bank Saderat, Ahvaz National Group Branch, from July 1, 2009, to July 31, 2011, and the profits thereof, in the total amount of 28 thousand 554 billion 400 million Rial, for the purpose of establishment of Bank Arya, for the purchase or establishment of new companies, paying the debts of the Group’s other companies, transferring a portion of the capital abroad, and payment of a portion of the funds to bribe and entice directors in the public and the private sectors.

3. Payment of bribes: The defendant has thus far admitted to payment of 30 counts of bribes, for 4 of which he has been found guilty, as follows, and for the rest, including the payment of a bribe to Mahmud Reza Khavari, then-executive director of Bank Melli and tens of other cases. The case remains open.

a. Payment of bribes to Bank Melli, Kish Central Branch and Ahvaz Bank Saderat employees: the amount of 24 billion 500 million Rial to Mr. “S.K.”, Ahvaz Bank Saderat National Group Branch manager; the amount of one billion 70 million Rial to Mr. “S.M.”, 20 million Rial to Ms. “M.M.”, 70 million Rial to Mr. “M.Z.”, 50 million Rial to “Gh. A.”, who are Bank Melli Kish Central Branch employees and were paid through Mr. “S.Kh.”.

b. To Kish Bank Sepah employees: the amount of 30 million Rial to Mr. “F.F.”, 20 million Rial to “M.F.”, 10 million Rial to “H.K.” through or under Mr. “S.Kh.”’s supervision, Amir Mansur Company’s supplier in Kish.

c. Payment of 9 billion Rial to Mr. “Kh.A.” Imidro Organization’s head and Deputy Minister of Industries and Mines, who is defendant number 9 in the case, with the cooperation of and through Mr. “A.R.”, who is defendant number 10.

d. Payment of 550 million Rial to Mr. “A.B.” then Bank Parsian, Pamenar Branch manager, and currently Bank Tat, Bazaar Mobl 2 Branch manager.

e. Payment of 266 thousand dollars one time, and 350 million Rial another time, to Mr. “Sh.R.”, a Ministry of Roads and Transportation official, through “A.R.” and “A.G.”

f. Payment of 113 thousand euro to “K.R.”, Imenpayan Company executive director, through “A.G.”.

g. Payment of 202 thousand euro and 800 million Rial to “M.A.”, a Ministry of Roads and Transportation Deputy Minister, through “A.G.”.

h. Payment of 168 thousand euro to Mr. “A.A.” a Ministry of Roads and Transportation General Director in one of the cities, through “A.G.”.

4. Use of multiple forged documents in relation to opening letters of credit borrowed on interest against Loshan Steel and Iron Company, Fuladfam Espadana, and Elite Azad Anzali, and said companies’ bank documents.

5. Aiding and abetting forgery of said companies’ documents through enticing Messrs. “S.K.”, “B.B.”, “A.Sh.”, “A.H.”, and facilitating the commission of crime in this regard.” (First court session).

The indictment also cited purchase of 6 to 7 billion worth of jewelry “to please his wife, from bank resources,” “lavish lifestyle, owning 4 luxury cars, hiring a foreign servant, purchase of jewelry worth billions, purchase of a number of residential homes in the capital’s best locations, purchase of a helicopter in East Asian countries” and “purchase of more than 250 billion Tuman worth of real estate in Tehran and other cities, the funds for which were obtained from bank resources” as evidence, among others, against the defendant.

The Prosecutor’s Office’s religious query of two of the foremost religious scholars, regarding the possibility of use [and applicability] of corruption on earth [Efsad fel-Arz] to an act other than Moharebeh (“waging war with Allah”) was also among the documents and evidence that constituted the basis for the court’s ruling.

According to the Prosecutor’s Representative’s statement in court, 29 million 713 thousand 841 square meters of land had been granted to subsidiaries of the Arya Group by various [governmental] organizations; in one instance alone, one million 300 thousand square meters were given by the General Administration for Housing and Urban Development in order to implement a tourism project in [the province of] Gilan. Additionally, a permit for extracting 250 liters per second of water from subterranean resources was issued to Gohar Dorud Lorestan Company, which could have been an environmental disaster. According to the Prosecutor’s Representative, the purchase of three soccer teams in Gilan, Khuzestan, and Lorestan, provinces that have special tribal cultures [and customs], was done solely with political and social objectives [in mind] since AmirKhosravi was not interested in the sport. Additionally, “investing in different areas such as lumber, household appliances, electronics, cattle ranching, transportation, distribution, insurance, IT, sports, and other areas, was spreading like cancer. Furthermore, activities such as purchase of traverse, ships, travel agencies, purchase of a pier in Russia, clearing goods [from customs], purchase of property and goods in order to keep government representatives at bay, mapping the country’s villages, preparing extremely detailed maps of the country in Jahat Tarsim Iranian Company, planning for the monopolization of main and basic areas such as steel, meat, poultry, and oils, were among Arya Groups activities which followed much higher and sinister objectives than financial corruption, and merit an examination of its security dimensions.” (Twelfth court session).

The Prosecutor’s Office’s religious query of Ayatollahs Makarem Shirazi and Nuri Hamedani, two of the foremost religious scholars, regarding the possibility of use [and applicability] of corruption on earth [Efsad fel-Arz] to an act other than Moharebeh (“waging war with Allah”) was also among the documents and evidence that constituted the basis for the court’s ruling. (Text of the Supreme Court Ruling, third court session).

According to the Prosecutor’s Representative, Mr. AmirKhosravi had a record of committing a theft of a shrine of a [Shiite] Imam’s descendant at the age of 19; also, in 2008-09, in a case involving bribing a bank employee for clearing the consequences of his bounced checks, he had been ordered to pay a monetary penalty of 4 million Tuman. (Twelfth court session).

Defense

Based on available information, Mr. AmirKhosravi was not given the opportunity or the authorization to mount an effective defense, in spite of the trial being public and the appointed attorney being present. The first and second attorneys resigned from the case after a short time. According to Mr. AmirKhosravi’s statement in the second court session, his attorney had resigned because he had not had sufficient time to read the case file. Mr. Gholamali Riahi was his third attorney and began to represent him from the fourth court session on. In addition to Mr. AmirKhosravi, he was representing several other defendants in the case.

In various court sessions, Mr. Riahi, Mr. AmirKhosravi’s attorney, objected to certain limitations such as lack of time to read the file and contact his client to prepare an effective defense. For instance, in the fourth court session, he alluded to the lack of coordination with his client, stating “I asked Mr. AmirKhosravi to write his point of view in the form of an essay ten days ago and to this moment I have not received it.” Furthermore, in the twelfth court session, Mr. Riahi stated that he had only been able to read 24 of the 32 volumes of the case file and asked for more time, which the judge denied. Mr. Riahi said: “In order to mount a systematic defense, we need one or two full sessions.” The judge refused to provide more time and denied the attorney’s claim of limitations in contacting his client. In the first court session, Mr. Shabani, Mr. AmirKhosravi’s first attorney had made an objection to the judge to the effect that he had only been allowed a few hours to speak with his client.

Mr. AmirKhosravi’s defense attorne: "What kind of sabotage establishes tens of manufacturing and financial units, takes bankrupt companies out of bankruptcy through [proper] management, and spending the funds obtained from letters of credit, creates full employment for 17,000 individuals, and in less than 30 months, takes the Iran National Steel Group, a company that was barely functioning, and makes it produce 3 million 300 thousand tons of steel products? This is why he has strongly denied the charge of sabotaging the economic system throughout the trial and has declared himself a servant of the country and the regime. Not an iota of evidence has been introduced as to his opposition to the Islamic Republic.”

In presenting his defense, Mr. Riahi stated that the judge had found 21 defects in the Prosecutor’s indictment and reiterated that he expected those defects to be rectified. (Fourth court session).

In the course of the trial, Mr. AmirKhosravi’s defense attorney referred to many issues, the most important of which were:

  • The Revolutionary Court’s lack of jurisdiction over the charges of corruption on earth [Efsad fel-Arz] and sabotaging the economic system.
  • The proper authorities to ascertain whether Arya Group had damaged national security were security authorities and not other organs.
  • The Minister of Economics had declared Mr. AmirKhosravi “a hero of the country’s economy.” How could he possibly be an economic saboteur?
  • AmirKhosravi did not corrupt the banks; the banking system itself was corrupt. The banking network was like a spider’s web that was seeking victims; AmirKhosravi was not the first victim.
  • The person who had been present at Khavari’s interrogation as attorney**** had advised the investigating judge - contrary to Khuzestan [Province] Information General Administration’s opinion - not to prohibit Khavari from leaving the country so that he could do so.
  • That attorney’s notebook, in which Khavari’s attorney’s name was written, was stolen in the course of a meeting with AmirKhosravi.
  • Because the case was transferred from Ahvaz to Tehran in the initial phase, only Tehran courts should be considered eligible to investigate the case. However, with the Tehran Prosecutor’s intervention, another order was issued so that the Tehran Prosecutor’s Office could intervene in the case investigation.
  • This [business] complex was not a saboteur but acted in relieving the country’s problems, and the funds that were taken out of the country were for business activities. For instance, when Mahafarid AmirKhosravi realized that the Ministry of Commerce needed to import meat, and that the manner of importing meat was problematic, he came up with a plan and purchased a farm in Brazil so he could import the needed meat, slaughtered in the proper Islamic way, pursuant to contracts he entered into with the government. What is the problem with that? (Sixth court session).
  • The alleged 6 billion worth of jewelry purchased for Mr. AmirKhosravi’s wife essentially does not exist.
  • He stated that the charge of theft from the shrine of an Imam’s descendent by the Prosecutor’s Representative was false. He said his client had once attempted to locate a treasure along with a number of his friends and had not found anything and were interrogated by police officials for a few hours at the police station. Why would the Prosecutor’s Representative accuse him of theft from a shrine based on a report without a signature?
  • The Central Bank has categorically denied the issue of sabotaging the country’s economic system in its report (pages 5695 to 5716 of the case file). This report consists of numbers and figure; it is not an analysis from which one can draw different conclusions. The lawyer asked the court to inquire about sabotaging the economic system from various government organs.
  • Mr. AmirKhosravi had no choice but to be at the service of this spider’s web-like network, otherwise the workers would have been protesting on the streets and you would have executed him for sabotaging the political system.
  • Why do the Prosecutor’s Representatives allude to the Supreme Leader’s words in order to issue an indictment? Can we call AmirKhosravi and his group “Mofsed” (“Corruptors”) based on something the Leader has said without an example of what that entails?
  • You cite a fatwa issued by the great religious scholars calling AmirKhosravi “Mofsed” and sentencing him to death. Why then, would this trial be necessary at all? When you speak of the great religious scholars, it means the ruling has already been issued. Have you told the scholars that this company has seventeen thousand employees and laborers? (Third court session).
  • There are reports in the case file that are basically and utterly false. For instance, it states that 12 thousand hectares of forest has been given to AmirKhosravi, whereas the issue was the construction of the Darfak cable car/ski lift and it was not about a grant at all.
  • He pointed to the change in law enforcement officials by the Prosecutor’s Office midway through the adjudication process and stated: “The investigating judges were the same but since the investigating group operated contrary to the [dictates of] the court, they were changed. The case took a different path after it was transferred to Tehran. In spite of the Khuzestan [Province] Information General Administration’s report, it was advised in Tehran not to issue an indictment against Mr. Khavari and he left the country three days later.

In numerous interviews with domestic media, Mr. Riahi stated that since Mr. AmirKhosravi was not a government employee, he could not be charged with embezzlement, and, regarding the charge of sabotaging the economic system, he said: “There is absolutely no evidence to prove sabotage of the economic system, especially such that it has resulted in corruption on earth [Efsad fel-Arz]; it had been alleged that the great religious scholars’ opinion was that he was Mofsed fel-Arz but upon a second inquiry, the scholars strongly denied issuance of any fatwas to that effect… What kind of sabotage establishes tens of manufacturing and financial units, takes bankrupt companies out of bankruptcy through [proper] management, and spending the funds obtained from letters of credit, creates full employment for 17,000 individuals, and in less than 30 months, takes the Iran National Steel Group, a company that was barely functioning, and makes it produce 3 million 300 thousand tons of steel products? This is why he has strongly denied the charge of sabotaging the economic system throughout the trial and has declared himself a servant of the country and the regime. Not an iota of evidence has been introduced as to his opposition to the Islamic Republic.” (Etemead, February 27, 2014).

It had been alleged that the great religious scholars’ opinion was that he was Mofsed fel-Arz but upon a second inquiry, the scholars strongly denied issuance of any fatwas to that effect.

On May 21, Gholamali Riahi stated that his client had written a confidential letter to the Supreme Leader and had requested that it be published by the Judiciary upon his authorization. The contents of this letter were never revealed. (ISNA, May 21, 2014).

AmirKhosravi’s Defense

In presenting his defense, AmirKhosravi reiterated that he was responsible for everything that had happened in his businesses and said that, even though some of the letters of credits were shams and no goods were exchanged, none were forgeries and he had nothing to do with the interest on bank transactions and was acting solely as a purchaser.

He stated that the payments he had made to Ahvaz Bank Saderat branch manager and employees and Bank Melli and Bank Sepah in Kish employees were for charitable purposes or as a loan or [Noruz] gifts and denied having made bribes. Concerning bribing government officials, however, he said that the Ministry of Industries’ deputy ministers were not clean and demanded money in order to do work. He stated: “Pressure from the Tax Administration, Properties Administration, various municipalities, and the salary of 16,000 employees forced us to pay bribes at times.” The executive director of Amir Mansur Arya Investment Group added: “I request that all Majless representatives, [province] governors, and general administrators come to court and recount the work I’ve done in order to inform the general public. It wasn’t as if every time I shook people’s hands I paid them money, they [were the ones who] actually demanded money of me.”

 Mr. AmirKhosravi: “One of the officials asked me to establish a company abroad in order to confront [and bypass] the sanctions. We discussed establishing Arya Bank for sanctions purposes and all the officials were informed [and knew about it] and one billion dollars was allotted for that purpose; but no one has the courage to say what went on in midnight meetings.”

Mr. AmirKhosravi emphasized that he had complained numerous times to high-ranking officials, including the head of the State Inspection Organization, the former Head of the Judiciary, the head of Majless’ National Security Commission, and the head of Majless’ Planning and Budget Commission, that he was constantly being blackmailed [and asked] for money. “I told Majless representatives numerous times about corruption in the country but they had no reaction and treated the issue very calmly and with silence. Mr. Purmohammadi had responded, for instance, that I was wrong and that they were good people.”

He said that some issues were beyond the court [system] and requested a closed session in order to divulge certain truths about the case, which the judge denied. He stated that throughout the country, governors, representatives, and Information General Administrators, were aware and informed of [the Group’s] activities. He asked officials who had asked for his assistance to present themselves to the court at the next session and tell the Leader of the Islamic Republic that he had intervened in order to help the government; otherwise, he promised he would divulge all their names with evidence to back up his claims in the next court session and would reveal the names of those responsible for Khavari, president of Bank Melli’s flight. As an example, he mentioned the name of Mohsen Rezai, the Expediency Council’s Secretary, and stated that he had held meetings with him in the latter’s home, Lavizan Park, and his office, regarding how to confront economic sanctions. Reacting to Mr. AmirKhosravi’s statement, the judge said there was not going to be another session and that he should say whatever he had to say right there and then.

In describing his activities and the assistance he had rendered to the government, Mr. AmirKhosravi said: “One of the officials who presented himself as the security advisor for sanctions, asked me to establish a company abroad in order to confront [and bypass] the sanctions. We discussed establishing Arya Bank for sanctions purposes and all the officials were informed [and knew about it] and one billion dollars was allotted for that purpose; but no one has the courage to say what went on in midnight meetings.”

Mr. AmirKhosravi complained to the judge that the latter had created a police atmosphere so that no one would dare say a word. The judge reacted and said: “You interfered in everything and everywhere, and you could have given interviews.” [Mr. AmirKhosravi] said he did not even trust the Information Ministry because Mr. Khavari’s contact that did all his work was with the Information Ministry.

He stated: “On August 5, two hours after the issuance of the arrest warrant, a former Information Ministry employee gave me the news and asked me to flee the country. But I didn’t do that because [even though] I haven’t done anything, I have to stay and be accountable for the mistakes others have made. These people wanted me to run away so they could blame me for everything; when they lost hope that I would do so, they got Khavari out because he too was at the root of [and privy to] a lot of issues.” He emphasized: “It is the same people who got Khavari out who don’t allow him to come back, and you won’t be able to get a hold of him even 10 years from now.”

Mr. AmirKhosravi emphasized: “It is the same people who got Khavari, Bank Melli Iran's president, out who don’t allow him to come back, and you won’t be able to get a hold of him even 10 years from now.”

He denied the charge of sabotaging the economic system and said: “If I wanted to inflict damage on the country and the regime, I would not have entered into contracts with the world’s top manufacturers to import parts. All the funds taken out of the country were for the purchase of machinery.” He reiterated that he had entered the realm of sanctions and privatizations upon the Special Headquarters for Sanctions’ request to help the government.

Although Mr. AmirKhosravi had announced that he would provide further details and officials’ names in the next court session, he was not allowed to attend and speak in the remaining sessions.

In two letters addressed to Messrs. Hashemi Shahrudi and Purmohammadi, Mr. AmirKhosravi’s brother who had left the country before the arrest, asked them to confirm that his brother had complained about officials blackmailing him and asking him for money and that they had not taken any steps. In his letter to Mostafa Purmohammadi, Mr. Mehregan AmirKhosravi asked him to clarify how Mr. Masud Movahedian (who died under suspicious circumstances after his name was mentioned in court) was connected to him and his deputies, and among whom the amount of one billion 400 million Tuman he had received was distributed. (Bamdad-e Khabar, June 20, 2012).

Legal Analysis

Quoted from ISNA, February 17, 2013

Bahman Keshavarz, the former president of the Iranian Bar Associations Union (ESKODA):

“Since I am not familiar with the substantive aspects of this case, I will refrain from opining about the details of the rulings; I do, however, have certain observations regarding the procedural aspects, which I state as follows:

First: The law governing this case is the Law on the Punishment of Saboteurs of the Country’s Economic System, ratified in 1990-91, about which the Judiciary Branch’s General Administration for Legal Affairs opinion number 8607/7 issued on October 2004, states: “Regarding the crime of sabotage of the country’s economic system, the law has not provided a specific definition, and it seems the task of defining it has been left to economic officials…” Therefore, since every law must have a definition or definitions, the law governing this case has a fundamental issue from the beginning, and to leave the presentation of a definition of a criminal issue to executive officials is unacceptable and has no justification.

Second: We are faced with many ambiguous terms in this law. Generally speaking, the use of ambiguous adjectives or adverbs or any other ambiguous words or terms is not permitted in court rulings, contracts, and text of laws.

In our laws, especially in our penal laws, there are many such instances. In this specific law, for example, we run into terms such as large-scale trafficking of foreign currency, wholesale distribution of counterfeit bills or coins, large-scale overpricing of goods, large-scale hoarding of goods, extensive pre-purchase of agricultural products, large-scale abuse of unauthorized sale of technical equipment, etc., large-scale bribery, obtaining large sums of money.

Furthermore, there exist terms such as “in cases that cause disruption of the country’s manufacturing policies”, “in order to create a monopoly or shortage in the supply thereof”, and “disrupts the economic system” in said Law (the Law on the Punishment of Saboteurs of the Country’s Economic System) that are generally vague: One court could believe that such events have occurred and another court might have an opinion to the contrary.

The said Law also provides: “In the event that each of the actions enumerated in Article 1 are intended to damage the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran and/or intended to confront [and oppose] the same, and/or [are taken] with the knowledge of the effectiveness of such action in opposing the regime, if such action rises to the level of corruption on earth [Efsad fel-Arz], the actor will be sentenced to death, and if not, to 5 to 20 years imprisonment…”

As can be observed, we are faced with an equation with multiple unknowns: One the hand, how can we ascertain the intent to damage, or the intent to confront [and oppose], or the knowledge of the effectiveness [of an action] beyond any doubt, and on the other hand, how can a court determine that these actions – assuming that the aforementioned conditions are met - rise to the level of corruption on earth [Efsad fel-Arz]?

Let us not forget that before we [even] get to these issues, we have to face other unknowns stemming from the terms “large-scale,” “wholesale,” “extensive” and the like. Therefore, it is very possible that something that seems both large-scale and wholesale to a court, and the intent to damage the regime or the intent to confront the same can also be felt and the totality rises to the level of corruption on earth [Efsad fel-Arz], would not satisfy any of these conditions in the eyes of another court.

Third: Regarding the court’s jurisdiction over this case: The Law on the Establishment of General and Revolutionary Courts of 1994, Article 5, enumerates cases over which revolutionary courts have jurisdiction. Pursuant to Paragraph 1 of said Article, Moharebeh or Efsad-fel-Arz is within the revolutionary court’s jurisdiction.

This Law was amended in 2002 by a law that has come to be known as “the law resurrecting the Prosecutor’s Office.” Pursuant to Article 4, Paragraph 1, hearing crimes the punishment for which is Qesas of life, Qesas of a part of the body, stoning, “Solb” (“crucifixion”), execution, or life imprisonment, as well as adjudication of media and political crimes, is within the jurisdiction of the Province Criminal Court. Pursuant to Article 20, Paragraph 1 of this same amended law of 2002, to hear these cases, the Province Criminal Court will be composed of five judges.

Bear in mind that “Solb” meaning crucifixion, and not hanging in its customary meaning, is one of the special punishments reserved for Moharebeh and corruption on earth [Efsad fel-Arz], that is, the punishment of crucifixion has not been designated for any other crime. There is, therefore, no doubt that after the amendment of the Law on the Establishment of General and Revolutionary Courts, charges the subject matter of which were Moharebeh and corruption on earth [Efsad fel-Arz], were to be adjudicated in the Province Criminal Court.

Nevertheless, in a Unified Procedure Opinion, the Supreme Court General Council ruled that in spite of the amended law – as mentioned above – adjudication of the charge of corruption on earth [Efsad fel-Arz] remains within the jurisdiction of the Revolutionary Court. We must, of course, keep in mind that Revolutionary Courts are composed of a single judge.

The subject becomes more interesting when we notice that in a different Unified Procedure Opinion issued two years subsequent to the aforementioned Opinion, the Supreme Court General Council ruled that, although the Province Criminal Courts were the proper appellate body for appealable rulings of general civil and criminal courts as well as revolutionary courts (Amended Article 21 of 2002), revolutionary court death sentences, must be appealed to the Supreme Court, given the necessity for closer scrutiny. In other words, since a single judge hears a case in revolutionary courts, in the event he issues a death sentence, the case will go to the Supreme Court which is the highest legal authority where at least two extremely qualified judges will hear the case, in spite of the aforementioned Article 21.

Now if we look at the case from a mathematical standpoint, we notice that in an intentional murder case, for instance, five judges initially hear the case at the Province Criminal Court, thereafter, upon appeal to the Supreme Court, at least two judges hear the case, three if there is disagreement among them. Hence, 8 people hear an intentional murder case. In a case such as the one at hand (a financial corruption case), however, initially one and then two judges, three if there is disagreement, that is, a total of four judges hear the case and the death sentence can be affirmed. It seems that the same argument and the same reasoning that the Supreme Court High Council has used to appoint a Supreme Court Branch as the proper authority to hear the appeal from revolutionary court death sentences, can be applied, post-2002 Amendment, to the Province Criminal Courts hearing the crime of Moharebeh and corruption on earth [Efsad fel-Arz], and possibly other cases that might result in a death sentence and were within the jurisdiction of revolutionary courts prior to the 2002 amendment.

Fourth: The issue that preoccupies the mind (in addition to the sentences issued, the [competent] adjudicating authority, and the like) and public opinion seems to be awaiting information thereon, is that, from a financial standpoint, exactly what violations and in what dimensions were committed , what exactly was misappropriated and perhaps stolen and/or moved through fraud and other criminal acts, and how much of it has been returned to the rightful owners, either in the form of cash, or movable and immovable property? Because, the truth is that executing individuals will neither prevent recurrence of such cases nor alleviate the financial issues.

Fifth: Issuance of such sentences and the renewed interest in the subject begs the question: After this affair, how have existing supervisory organs, whether it be the banks’ internal organization, the State General Inspection Organization, the Accounting and Auditing Office, and other bodies that directly or indirectly have supervisory responsibilities, become more active, and if so, what tangible results have these activities brought about?” (ISNA, February 13, 2013).

Decision

In September 2012, Tehran Islamic Revolutionary Court Branch One sentenced Mr. Mahafarid AmirKhosravi to death on the charge of “Sabotaging the country’s economic system and corruption on earth [Efsad fel-Arz]”, to return of property and payment of one fourth of 2,500 billion Tumanas penalty on the charge of “money laundering”, and to seizure of all funds on the charge of “payment of bribes”. (Mehr News Agency, September 3, 2012). The court decision cited the Law on the Punishment of Saboteurs of the Country’s Economic System of December 10, 1990 with Subsequent Amendments and Additions, Article 2, Article 1(a) and 1(c) of the Law, as well as the Law on Aggravated Punishment of Bribery, Embezzlement, and Fraud Criminals of 1988 enacted by the Expediency Council, Article 4, and inquiries made to and responses from Ayatollahs Makarem Shirazi and Nuri Hamedani. In response to inquiries by the defendants and their attorneys as to their fatwa, both ayatollahs denied any responses and any intervention in the case. (ISNA, February 27, 2013).

Mr. Mahafarid AmirKhosravi was executed at Evin Prison on the morning of May 24, 2014, in the absence and without the knowledge of his attorney and family. According to Mr. AmirKhosravi’s wife, they visited with him the day before his execution but neither he nor his family had any knowledge that it would be their last visitation.

In addition to Mr. AmirKhosravi, three other defendants in the case were sentenced to death and the other defendants received heavy jail sentences. On January 18, 2013, Supreme Court Branch 13 affirmed the ruling. Mr. AmirKhosravi’s attorney and other defendants submitted requests for a new trial, some of which were granted, but no news of Mr. AmirKhosravi’s request was published. According to his attorney, instead of being sent to a similar court of first instance, the request for a new trial had been sent to that same Supreme Court Branch 13 (Mehr, April 16, 2013).

Mr. Mahafarid AmirKhosravi was executed at Evin Prison on the morning of May 24, 2014, in the absence and without the knowledge of his attorney and family. According to Mr. AmirKhosravi’s wife, they visited with him the day before his execution but neither he nor his family had any knowledge that it would be their last visitation. (Mehr, May 24, 2013). His body was buried at Behesht Zahra Cemetery in coordination with his family and in the presence of security agents. Two of the people attending the burial were arrested by security agents. Security agents summoned Mr. AmirKhosravi’s brother and his attorney and obtained a pledge from them that a wake [scheduled for him] would be cancelled. (ISNA, May 28, 2014).

Mr. AmirKhosravi’s execution took place only 4 days after he had written, according to his attorney, a confidential letter to the Leader of the Islamic Republic. Reacting to the case in October 2011, Ayatollah Khamenei had said [to all concerned] not to “draw the case out.”

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*Sources: The published reports of trial sessions; First court session (Tasnim News, February 18, 2012), Second session (Irna, March 11, 2012), Third session (Tabnak, 17 March, 2012), Forth session (Farsnews and Alef, March 27, 2012), Fifth session (Isna, April 8, 2012), Sixth session (Isna, April 15, 2012), Seventh session (Isna, April 22, 2012), Eighth session (Isna, April 29, 2012), Ninth session (Isna, May 6, 2012), Tenth session (Isna, May 13, 2012), Eleventh session (Isna, May 20, 2012), Twelfth session (Farsnews, May 30, 2012), Thirteenth session (Isna, June 10, 2012), Fourteenth session (Isna, July 8, 2012), Fifteenth session (Isna, July 15, 2012).
**The Principle 90 Commission is one of the Islamic Consultative Assembly’s specialized commissions which, in accordance with Principle 90 of the Constitution, has the duty of following up complaints against the three branches of the government.
***Mr. Movahedian was a Revolutionary Guards officer during the war and an advisor to “Mostafa Purmohammadi,” the Head of the State General Inspection Organization, and had received one billion 400 million Tuman from Mr. Mahafarid AmirKhosravi. (Mehregan AmirKhosravi’s letter to Ayatollah Khamenei).
****Mr. Javad Allah Qadami, Mr. Khavari’s attorney, was a former judge and a close relative of Mohseni Ejei.

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