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

Mohsen Nasiri

About

Age: 30
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Single

Case

Date of Killing: January 12, 2016
Location of Killing: Central Prison (Nedamatgah), Karaj, Alborz Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Drug possession
Age at time of offense: 27

About this Case

News of the execution of Mr. Mohsen Nasiri (Mojreh), along with three others*, was published on the website of HRANA (Human Rights Activists News Agency) on January 13, 2016. Additional information was taken from the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation interview with an informed person on June 3, 2016 and documents related to this case.

Mr. Nasiri, son of Nezam’ali, was born in Khalkhal in 1985. He was raised in a crowded working family and worked in various jobs such as a street peddler. He was a high school senior but did not graduate. According to the interviewee, he was a funny, generous, and kind individual. He planned to marry his girlfriend before being arrested.

The case of Mr. Nasiri was related to the possession of narcotics found in his sister’s house. He always denied any information regarding the narcotics.   

Arrest and detention

Mr. Nasiri was arrested at his sister’s house in Fardis, Karaj, on either December 17 or 19, 2012. Security agents attacked the house without any warrant or even introduction around 10 a.m. and insulted and mistreated the residents. They searched and ransacked the house. Agents beat up Mr. Nasiri and took him to an unknown location. They also took two vehicles belonging to him and his relatives and every cellphone in the house. He was not allowed to call his family for two weeks. Then Mr. Nasiri was not allowed to contact anybody for 40 days when authorities informed his family of his transfer to the Karaj Prison. He was detained in Sections 1, 4, and 5 of this prison where he was trusted and liked by other prisoners. After his transfer to the prison, he was allowed bi-weekly visits from his family. According to the source, Mr. Nasiri was harassed in the prison.

In order to trap other individuals, agents pressured Mr. Nasiri’s family. They threatened them continuously and sometimes informed the family of his abuse in prison to scare them.

According to Mr. Nasiri’s sister, his friend, who allegedly had put the narcotics in the storage space in her house, had been arrested and claimed that Mohsen Nasiri owned the narcotics.

According to the interviewee, Mr. Nasiri had no attorney during the interrogation and preliminary investigation period. 

Trial

Branch One of the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Karaj, with judge Hosseini presiding, tried Mr. Nasiri on April 11, 2013. No information is available on his trial; however, according to the available information, the trial session was very short and when Mr. Nasiri exited the court, he showed his red finger to his family and informed them of his death sentence. He told them this meant signing his death sentence and there was no trial except finger printing. After the court issued the ruling, the family tried unsuccessfully to appeal or commute the sentence by going to various institutions. The request for the case to go to the Supreme Court was noted on January 11, 2016. 

Charges

The charge brought against Mr. Nasiri was announced as “possession of 4 kilograms and 400 grams of methamphetamine.”  

The validity of the criminal charges brought against this defendant cannot be ascertained in the absence of the basic guarantees of a fair trial. International human rights organizations have drawn attention to reports indicating that the Islamic Republic authorities have brought trumped-up charges, including drug trafficking, sexual, and other criminal offences, against their opponents (including political and civil society activists, as well as unionists and ethnic and religious minorities). Thousands of alleged drug traffickers have been sentenced to death following judicial processes that fail to meet international standards. Scores of them were executed based on a 1989 law imposing mandatory death sentences on drug traffickers found in possession of specified amounts of proscribed narcotics (5 kg of hashish or opium, and more than 30 grams of heroin, codeine or methadone). The exact number of people convicted based on trumped-up charges is unknown.

Evidence of guilt

According to the existing verdict, the evidence presented against Mr. Nasiri was “the recovery of 4 kilograms and 400 grams of methamphetamine from the storage area of his sister’s house and his statements and “confession.”

International human rights organizations have repeatedly condemned the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran for its systematic use of severe torture and solitary confinement to obtain confessions from detainees and have questioned the authenticity of confessions obtained under duress.

Defense

Mr. Nasiri always claimed innocence and that he was unaware of the recovered narcotics. According to the existing information, the night before his arrest, a friend asked him to keep some alcoholic beverages for his sister’s wedding party that was nearby. Mr. Nasiri had accepted his friend’s request and gave him his car for this purpose. The guard of the house where Mr. Nasiri was arrested told agents that night that he had seen a couple put the bag (of narcotics) in the storage and testified that Mr. Nasiri had no role in it. However, the court did not summon him to testify. Mr. Nasiri’s attorney believed that he would be released because there was no evidence against him in the case.

Brief Legal Objections Regarding Mr. Nasiri’s Trial

According to the information available, a group of individuals who were not wearing any uniforms and did not have any warrant entered the house and searched it. They did not introduce themselves or mention any institution that had sent them, but attacked the house and committed illegal acts. According to Iranian laws and regulations, an arrest should take place with a warrant unless the crime is obvious. Considering the fact that agents did not observe the hiding of the narcotics, the crime was not obvious. Additionally, agents claimed that they had been in front of the house for several hours; therefore, they could have obtained an arrest warrant to a warrant to search the house from the judicial authorities. In addition to the arrest warrant, they needed a search warrant to show the defendant and the house owner.

According to the available information, it is apparent that security or police agents insisted on getting a confession from Mr. Nasiri and forcing him to testify against another person. During the detention period, Mr. Nasiri was pressured. According to Iranian law, any form of pressure, deception, or threat to get a confession is illegal and the confession has no legal credibility.

According to the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Public Prosecutor’s Office is responsible for investigating all crimes. This office is obligated to investigate all aspects of the case and consider all claims. In this case, it’s apparent that the Public Prosecutor’s Office relied only on the testimony of one person and issued the indictment and finalized the case based on the recovery of narcotics in the house of the defendant’s sister. This despite the fact that the guard of the building from which the narcotics were recovered stated that he had seen with his own eyes that a man and a woman put the narcotics in the house when Mohsen Nasiri was not present. This statement was made to agents when Mr. Nasiri was arrested. But the agents did not pay any attention and the case inspector did not question the guard whereas the inspector should have summoned the guard to the Public Prosecutor’s Office for questioning. It was also possible to identify the person who put the narcotics in the storage area by using closed circuit cameras surrounding the house and questioning neighbors and other informants. During the investigation and interrogation period, it was stated that several other individuals were related to the recovered narcotics; however, the Public Prosecutor’s Office did not summon them and was indifferent to solving the case. The Public Prosecutor’s Office of Karaj charged Mr. Nasiri without the necessary investigation and the court did not pay any attention to the lack of such an investigation.

Based on a self-evident legal principle, a person can only be charged with a crime when it becomes evident that he had committed the crime. In other words, everyone is innocent unless it is proven they have committed a crime. Branch One of the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Karaj charged Mr. Nasiri with possession of narcotics; whereas, the narcotics were only discovered in the house of the defendant’s sister and no explanation was given for how he had them in his possession. On various occasions including during the trial, the defendant expressed his ignorance of the existence of narcotics in the house and stated that he had given the storage key to his friends. According to the indictment, the defendant stated that he had no idea about the content of the plastic bag. Even if he knew about the narcotics, it’s not possible to assume that he committed a crime because knowing and possession are two different things. The Revolutionary Court condemned Mr. Nasiri to death without authenticating whether he himself possessed and hid the narcotics and committed a crime.

According to an informed source, Mr. Nasiri did not benefit from an attorney and was denied access to one. His family chose an attorney for him; however, for unknown reasons, no attorney could access the case. It’s uncertain whether the court assigned a public defender to him, but, according to the available information, Mr. Nasiri had no attorney during the interrogation and preliminary investigation period. If he had a public defender, it would have been shortly before the trial and not effective; whereas, according to the laws, the presence of an attorney in cases such as this with a potential death penalty sentence, is necessary. Based on Article 186 of the Code of Criminal Procedure for the Revolutionary and Public Courts, “in crimes punishable by death, stoning, and life imprisonment, if the defendant cannot introduce an attorney, assignment of a public defender is necessary.” Even though the presence of an attorney in judicial procedure is limited to the trial and judges, misinterpreting the law, consider the presence of an attorney to be necessary only in court;,  according to a rational interpretation of this article, the defendant should have access to an attorney throughout the process including the preliminary and interrogation periods. Mohsen Nasiri was interrogated without knowing his rights. He was denied access to an attorney in an important phase. Denying Mr. Nasiri an attorney or a public defender during the bulk of the investigation, prevented him from defending himself. This is so important that it could have nullified all of the preliminary investigation and the court ruling.

According to the existing laws in Iran, including the Islamic Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure for the Revolutionary and Public Courts, a confession can only be considered for a court ruling when it is made in the presence of the judge. Therefore, confessions made only in the presence of an inspector or law enforcement officials could not be referred for ruling. According to note 59 of the Code of Criminal Procedure for the Revolutionary and Public Courts, “in cases in which the confession of a defendant or a testimony of a witness, or testimony to testimony of a witness is used for the court ruling, it must be heard by the judge who issues the ruling.” The Head of Branch One of the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Karaj stated in the indictment that the defendant had confessed during the preliminary investigation period. Not only there is no reference to the content of the confession, but even if the court claim regarding the defendant’s confession was correct, it was absolutely necessary for the court to investigate and ask the defendant about the validity of his confession. Since the judge based his ruling on the statements and confession of the defendant made during the preliminary period, not paying attention to the point above nullifies the court ruling.         

Judgment

Branch One of the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Karaj condemned Mr. Mohsen Nasiri (Mojreh) to death and the Supreme Court confirmed the ruling. He was hanged, along with three others, in the Karaj Central Prison on January 12, 2016. He had been transferred to solitary confinement on January 10th when he visited his family and friends for the last time. He was buried at Emamzadeh Ebrahim in Malard.

The judicial and prison authorities encouraged Mr. Nasiri to memorize the Quran and promised him a commuted sentence. He had participated in various classes and made successful achievements in studying the Quran and moral education. But there was no change in his sentence. 

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* Seyed Hamid Hajian, Hossein Tutian Nush, and Mostafa Jamshidi

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