Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Hamed Vekalat


Age: 29
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam (Sunni)
Civil Status: Single


Date of Killing: October 26, 2013
Location of Killing: Central Prison, Zahedan, Sistan Va Baluchestan Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: War on God; Membership of anti-regime guerilla group; Corruption on earth

About this Case

News of the execution of Mr. Hamed Vekalat and fifteen other prisoners was published by a number of sources including the Prosecutor General of Sistan and Baluchistan Province (October 27, 2013,) Fars News Agency (October 26, 2013,) Central News Unit (October 26, 2013,) and HRANA (December 11, 2013.) Further information on the case was obtained from interviews conducted by the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation with a person familiar with Mr. Vekalat (ABF interview,) the letter Mr. Vekalat addressed to the United Nation’s Human Rights Commissioner from inside Zahedan prison (May-June 2013,) transcripts of the audio file Mr. Vekalat recorded in prison (Baluch Activists’ Campaign, January 5, 2012) as well as other sources.*

Mr. Vekalat was a young, married member of Iran’s Baluch minority and a native of the village of Kuhban-e Zarabad in the Konarak County jurisdiction of Sistan and Baluchistan province. He worked as a guard at a dock construction company (ABF interview).


Following an armed attack by Jaish ul-Adl* on a border station in Saravan, Sistan and Baluchistan (Friday night, October 25, 2013), as a result of which at least 14 border guards were killed and seven injured, the Ministry of Justice of the province reported the execution of 16 prisoners on Saturday, October 26. The Public and Revolutionary Prosecutor of Zahedan referred to the execution of the 16 “villains connected to enemy groups” as “retaliation.” According to the Chief Justice of Sistan and Baluchistan, the execution of these convicts had been “postponed out of Islamic compassion” but due to Jaish ul-Adl’s assault on provincial border guards and “insistence on cowardly terrorist attacks,” the sentences were at last carried out (Asr-e Hamoon, Fars News Agency.) The convicts had been arrested during the preceding few years and were not connected to Jaish ul-Adl’s armed attack, which took place only a few hours before their execution. They faced various charges across different cases: according to provincial judicial authorities, eight of them had been accused of drug offenses (Ministry of Justice of Sistan and Baluchistan.)

Human rights organizations and activists called this mass summary execution a “reprisal” and protested against the execution of the prisoners who were not directly connected to the armed attack. Ahmed Shaheed, United Nations Special rapporteur on the Human Rights situation in Iran, called the execution of these people a type of retaliation in-kind and an illegal act according to international human rights laws. Shirin Ebadi, lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and Sarah Leah Whitson, Human Rights Watch expert, also considered the execution of the 16 prisoners in retaliation for the border guards’ killing as a violation of legal norms and an indicator of the lack of independence of Iran’s judiciary. Both experts condemned the executions. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, human rights activists, and the International Federation for Human Rights also issued statements protesting the reprisal.

Arrest and Detention

Intelligence Ministry Operatives took Mr. Vekalat into custody on June 9, 2010, as he was in route to the city of Chabahar from his village. He was taken to the Ministry of Intelligence detention facility in Zahedan. Mr. Vekalat wrote that he was held in a solitary cell here for three months, after which time he was transferred to the incommunicado solitary wing of Zahedan Prison where he would be confined for nine months. During his time in the solitary cell, Mr. Vekalat was deprived of the right to meet with his family and lawyer. He reported being subjected to physical and mental torture in the Intelligence facility, referring to “beatings with cables, electric shock, knockout spray, the ‘miracle bed,’ and being left alone for long periods of time” as being among such tortures: “Which of these tortures could I speak of that you’d understand, that you could give form to in your mind, that wouldn’t make your hair stand on end? For three months in the Intelligence facility I was subjected to the worst, most brutal tortures… Three times they tied me down to the miracle bed. My feet were ruined. For two or three months they wouldn’t fit in my slippers. I prayed sitting down.” Besides these physical tortures, Mr. Vekalat also spoke of mental and psychological abuses which caused him to forget the name of his own child while in solitary: “I said I was disgusted with myself, that I’d tell him anything he wanted, lies or whatever. He said ‘No, not lies – the truth.’ … They threw me into solitary, forcing me mentally and psychologically: for three months I was there all by myself. I said, ‘Execution has an upside compared to all this torture you’re doing. With execution, it’s all over in a couple minutes.’ They said ‘Aren’t you afraid of execution?’ I said ‘Execution has an upside: two minutes and a person is over and done with. With this stuff you guys are doing to my back and feet, my eyes are gonna burst. I’ve lost my fear of death; I’m even ready to be executed” (transcript of audio file from within prison.)


Branch 1 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Zahedan tried Mr. Vekalat in a closed session. Mr. Ali Karimi, his chosen lawyer, was also present in court. According to Mr. Vekalat, the judge in the case treated him aggressively and addressed him as “Wahhabi.” Further information regarding details of the trial is not available.


According to Mr. Vekalat’s letter, the charges brought against him were “membership in and support of the armed popular movement called Jundullah.” A statement from the Sistan and Baluchistan Prosecutor General details the charges brought against Mr. Vekalat and seven other codefendants as “moharebeh (‘war against God,’) corruption on earth through collaboration with and membership in Jundullah, and effective participation in terrorist incidents in the province in recent years” (October 27, 2013.)

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

There is no precise information regarding the evidence presented at trial. Mr. Vekalat’s own statements indicate that his verdict was based on forced confessions made in the Ministry of Intelligence detention facility (Letter to UN Rapporteur.)


Mr. Vekalat denied the charges levelled against him in a number of letters written from inside prison. Denying the accusations in court, he declared his own confessions to be lies and untruths made “under force of torture and coercion” from his interrogators. According to the letter Mr. Vekalat wrote to the UN Human Rights Rapporteur, the judge in the case responded to the accusations of torture by saying “Unless there’s force you people don’t talk.” Mr. Vekalat emphasized that he had never been a Jundullah member and that his only offense had been his “familial relationship with a relative named Omar Shahvazehi – himself a Jundullah member -contacting him occasionally by telephone and exchanging pleasantries” (Letter to UN Rapporteur.)

Mr. Ali Karimi, Mr. Vekalat’s chosen lawyer, was present in court; according to Mr. Vekalat, however, he did not mount an effective defense and encouraged Mr. Vekalat to cooperate with the judge: “The lawyer didn’t say anything, only that I should accept the charges to get a reduced sentence. I said, ‘What am I supposed to accept? I didn’t do anything and you know it – how am I supposed to plead guilty? I’ve not done anything to have a sentence reduced for”(Letter from inside prison.) According to acquaintances, native Baluch lawyers came under pressure from intelligence forces and were not permitted to take up the case.

The families of some of the executed prisoners addressed a letter to Ayatollah Khamenei. Referring to the statement of the Deputy Prosecutor of Zahedan in his meeting with the families, they wrote “You killed 16 of us, so we will kill 16 of you, too”. Referencing the instances of torture to which the defendants were subjected, including “connecting electrical cords to the body, pressing hot irons against the body, hanging weights from delicate body parts, and suspension from the hands and feet,” they protested the violation of the rights of the defendants and asked for a special team to be sent to investigate the issue, to talk to the prisoners about their torture and to the families of the executed prisoners to find out why their children had been killed. The families believed that the executions represent an extension of ethnic and religious discrimination in Sistan and Baluchistan, stating that “They don’t care about people’s complaints; as soon as people complain, any investigation is cast as a sectarian and ethnic matter and is therefore terminated. Cruelty, tyranny, and torture increase and everybody accepts that they should not complain, that they should be prepared to be arrested, tortured, imprisoned, and executed and think they deserve it… [in our province] articles 19, 32, 36, and 39 of the Constitution have been replaced by the principles of arrest, torture in prison, and execution. People don’t have a voice and if they speak out…they are members of Abdolmalek’s group who have helped the enemies, so the complaint is halted right away.” (HRANA, December 11, 2011.)

A Summary of the Legal Defects in the Adjudication of Mr. Hamed Vekalat’s Case

The most important and fundamental flaw in the ruling in Mr. Vakalat’s case is that it was issued without any legal evidence. According to available information, Mr. Hamed Vekalat’s death sentence was issued on the basis of his confessions made while [detained by] the security apparatus and in the prosecutor’s office under interrogation. He later wrote a letter to Mr. Ahmad Shahid, the United Nations Special Rapporteur, in which he stated that the confessions were obtained under torture. Pursuant to Iranian law, torture and duress of the defendant is illegal and considered to be a crime. Furthermore, confessions obtained in this manner are without legal credence. Principle 38 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran as well as other Iranian laws so state expressly. Islamic Penal Code, Article 578 even provides that the extraction of an admission through torture is considered a crime and those who commit such an act, criminals. Therefore, the court’s reliance on a confession made under duress and torture was completely illegal. The court should have conducted the necessary investigations in that regard before citing it as a basis for its ruling. Furthermore, considering that Mr. Vekalat had retracted his previous admissions at trial and stated that they were obtained under torture, the court should have excluded the confession from being presented as evidence based on those statements, regardless of whether he was tortured or not, because, pursuant to existing laws, including the Islamic Penal Code and the Law on the General and Revolutionary Courts Rules of Criminal Procedure, admissions and confessions to crimes, especially those that carry Hadd punishments, are legally valid only if made before the judge who issues a ruling in the case. (Note to Article 59 of the Law on the General and Revolutionary Courts Rules of Criminal Procedure). Furthermore, in accordance to Shari’a rules, as well as the Islamic Penal Code, in the event that an individual admits to committing a crime subject to the Hadd punishment of death, and subsequently retracts said confession for any reason, that individual can no longer be subjected to the death penalty. (Islamic Penal Code, Article 173). Therefore, since Mr. Vekalat was tried for the crime of Moharebeh – the punishment for which is death – and that the court had relied on his confession as the basis of its ruling – a confession which he retracted at trial – the judge could not have sentenced him to death. Therefore, denying the charge and retracting the confession was sufficient to prevent the court from convicting him on the charge of Moharebeh.

According to available information, judicial authorities did not allow Mr. Vekalat to retain local ethnic Baluch counsel. Additionally, his attorney did not mount an effective defense and [actually] encouraged him to cooperate. The fact that the defendant did not have the opportunity to enjoy the services of an attorney most certainly deprived him of his right to a defense and was contrary to the principles of fair trial.

The execution of Mr. Vakalat and 15 other individuals took place immediately after the killing of several Iranian border patrol officers in the Baluchestan region. This is cause for reflection as the objective of these executions seems to have been revenge.


Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in Zahedan condemned Mr. Hamed Vekalat to death on October 1, 2012. Following Mr. Vekalat’s complaint, an order for review was sent to Branch 11 of the Supreme Court (letter to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.) An acquainted of Mr. Vekalat’s stated that his capital sentence was overturned (Baluch Activists’ Campaign.) Zahedan’s Public and Revolutionary Attorney General, however, reported that the sentence was confirmed by judiciary officials without providing further detail (Prosecutor General of Sistan and Baluchistan.)

Mr. Vekalat was hanged on October 26, 2013, along with 15 other prisoners in Zahedan Central Prison. The execution was conducted in secret and without observing proper legal procedures such as notifying his lawyer or a final visit with family. Mr. Vekalat’s body was not turned over to his family. According a source close to him, the Intelligence Ministry office in Zahedan responded to further questioning from families by naming a distant region as the burial place of Mr. Vekalat and seven other executed prisoners. The family was not informed of a precise resting place, however (ABF interview.)


*Sources: Human Rights Activists for Democracy in Iran (September 14, 2013), Asrehamoon (October 26, 2013), Jaish ul-Adl weblog (October 26, 2013), ISNA (October 26, 2013), HRANA (September 13, 2012; October 27, 2013), Radio Farda (October 27, 2013), Deutsche Welle (October 30, 2013), Melliun (November 3, 2013), ‌Baloch Campaign (October 27, 2015).
** The Popular Resistance Movement of Iran, known as Jondollah, was established in 2003. This group declared its goal as the struggle for achieving the religious and national rights of Baluch and Sunni people in Sistan Va Baluchestan province in Iran and emphasized that it is not a separatist group. In 2005, this group began a series of military operations against Islamic Republic forces during which dozens of the regime’s forces were captured or killed. In response, the Islamic Republic arrested and executed dozens of members of this group; military operations continue in Sistan Va Baluchestan. In an interview with the media outside of Iran, the leader of this group, Abdolmalek Rigi, rejected the government’s labels of “terrorist” and “foreign agent” and claimed that they began their struggle against the Islamic Republic to replace it with “a popular regime that recognizes the rights of all humans.” The news of this arrest was published by the Intelligence Ministry of Iran on February 23, 2010, and the circumstance of his arrest is yet unknown. Abdolmalek Rigi was hanged in the Evin prison on June 20, 2010. In early 2011 a number of Jondollah’s members under the leadership of Sallahudin Farroughi established the Jaish ul-Adl organization, implementing organizational and structural changes and reconsidering some of their former methods. Jaish ul-Adl describes itself as a Sunni group emphasizing “federalism for Iran and self-rule for Baluchistan” as well as “armed struggle against the Islamic Republic.”

Correct/ Complete This Entry