Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Ali Reza Molla Soltani


Age: 17
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Single


Date of Killing: September 21, 2011
Location of Killing: Karaj, Alborz Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Murder
Age at time of alleged offense: 17

About this Case

Does the fame of a murdered athlete justify a death sentence for a 17-year-old boy? 

News of Mr. Ali Reza Mollasoltani’s execution was published on Alborz Province Judiciary’s website, ISNA, and Fars News Agency (September 20, 2011), Mehr News Agency (September 21, 2011), and on Mohammad Mostafa’ee’s weblog “Modafe”. Additional information was obtained from various sources, including Alborz Province Judiciary’s website (August 6, August 28, and September 19, 2011), Fars News Agency (September 5, 2011), Karaj General and Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office’s website (August 18, 2011), Mellat Online (August 8, 2011), and other sources.* Human rights organizations, including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (September 22, 2011) and Amnesty International (September 20 and 21, 2011) condemned this execution. Some information has also been obtained from Mr. Mollasoltani’s family’s interview with Asseman weekly, cited on the Vista website.

Mr. Mollasoltani, son of Abolqassem, was born on December 25, 1993. He was his family’s youngest child and continued his studies until eighth grade. He then started to do manual labor in various cities along with his older brother. According to his brother, he was a hard-working person without any history of violence (Mehrdad Mollasoltani’s interview with Asseman Weekly). His case, along with that of two other defendants, is related to the murder of an athlete known as “Iran’s strongest man” which occurred at midnight on July 16, 2011, in the city of Karaj’s Golshahr neighborhood, on Puneh Street.

Mr. Mollasoltani, who had not yet reached the age of eighteen, and two of his friends were engaged in a verbal argument with the passengers of another car while driving. The argument turned into a physical altercation. The person gravely injured in the scuffle was Ruhollah Dadashi, Iran’s strongest man, who died on the way to the hospital.

Owing to Mr. Dadashi’s fame and popularity, the media and the authorities paid unusual and one-sided attention to this case and worked to provoke public opinion against Mr. Mollasoltani.

Following an official announcement, thousands of people showed up for a teenage boy’s execution 

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Amnesty International both condemned this execution and considered it contrary to human rights standards and a violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Prior to the implementation of the sentence, Amnesty International had issued a declaration asking Iran’s judicial authorities to stop the execution.

International law strictly prohibits the death penalty for individuals who have not yet reached the age of 18 at the time of the commission of the crime. As a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Iran is obligated not to execute individuals who have committed a crime when they were children.

Arrest and Detention

According to the Karaj Police Chief, Mr. Mollasoltani was arrested on July 19, 2011, through the efforts of Tehran and Alborz Provinces’ specialized, security, information, and criminal investigations agents. His two companions were arrested on July 17, 2011 (IRNA, July 20, 2011). There is conflicting information regarding the way Mr. Mollasoltani was arrested. In explaining the indictment, the Karaj Prosecutor’s representative stated that Mr. Mollasoltani was arrested on July 19, 2011, when he intended to leave town. However, according to Mr. Mollasoltani’s testimony in court, he surrendered himself to the Criminal Investigations Bureau in Karaj; he said that the police’s claim of arresting him was a lie. His attorney also stated in court that Mr. Mollasoltani had surrendered himself (Mellat Online, August 8, 2011). Mollasoltani’s brother also stated in an interview that he was with him and had coordinated with the Criminal Investigations Bureau to deliver his brother to them (Mehrdad Mollasoltani interview with Asseman Weekly).

Mr. Mollasoltani’s case was reviewed in a meeting in Karaj on Wednesday, July 20, with the country’s Prosecutor General, the Karaj Prosecutor, the Prosecutor’s Office’s homicide investigation judge, and Alborz Province and the head of the City of Karaj’s Criminal Investigations Bureau’s Homicide Division in attendance. The case even reached the Islamic Consultative Assembly’s (Majless’) Councils and Internal Affairs Commission’s Security Committee, and the athlete’s murder was reviewed in the presence of judicial, security, and Alborz Province’s police officials (Karaj General and Revolutionary Prosecutor’ Office July 20, 2011). Mr. Mollasoltani’s case was taken up exclusively by Karaj General and Revolutionary Prosecutor’ Office Branch 21, and an indictment was issued against him (Karaj General and Revolutionary Prosecutor’ Office August 18, 2011). He was in detention for two months, during which his family visited him several times. His last visitation with his family was one day prior to his execution on September 20, 2011.


Alborz Province Criminal Court tried Mr. Mollasoltani. His case was taken up out of turn by the judiciary. His first and last trial session was convened on August 6, 2011, 18 days after the fight. Province Criminal Court judges and the chief judge, Karaj Prosecutor’s representative, and another plaintiff who had gotten into a fight with Mr. Mollasoltani on the day of the incident, were present at trial. His attorney was court-appointed. According to his brother, no attorney would agree to take on Mollasoltani’s representation. The trial lasted two hours. At the close of the session, the judges announced that they would issue a ruling within a week (Mellat Online, August 8, 2011).

Mr. Mollasoltani’s family was not present at trial. Law enforcement officers had told the defendant’s family that it was best if they left the premises because they could not guarantee their safety due the people’s anger at the death of their athlete (Mehrdad Mollasoltani interview with Asseman Weekly).


Alborz Province Criminal Court declared the charge against Mr. Mollasoltani to be “intentional murder”.

How did judicial authorities turn a 17-year-old boy’s manslaughter charge into premeditated murder? 

The validity of the criminal charges brought against this defendant cannot be ascertained in the absence of the basic guarantees of a fair trial.

Evidence of Guilt

The evidence against Mr. Mollasoltani was “discovery of the murder weapon, discovery of the victim’s blood on the defendant’s car, defendant’s identification through a [police] sketch, the medical examiner’s evidence, statements of eyewitnesses, victim’s brother’s complaint, a complaint filed by another plaintiff, and the defendants’ confessions.”

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.


Mr. Mollasoltani was not given the opportunity to present an appropriate defense. Mr. Mollasoltani did not have a prior criminal record and he had not reached the age of eighteen at the time of commission of the crime. Not only did the atmosphere of anger and fear that had been created result in independent attorneys not accepting his representation; the media’s inaccurate and conflicting information provoked public opinion against him and had a negative effect on the case, expediting the adjudication. Official published accounts regarding the events that resulted in Mr. Dadashi’s death are also conflicting. In the days after the murder, the authorities dismissed the notion of prior intent to commit murder on the part of the defendants. The head of the Islamic Consultative Assembly’s (Majless’) Councils and Internal Affairs Commission’s Security Committee stated in an interview that, upon reviewing the murder case in the presence of judicial, security and Alborz Province police officials, he  had reached the conclusion that the victim and the attackers did not know each other beforehand, and that the fight was the result of anger on both sides (IRNA, July 20, 2011). The Alborz and Tehran Provinces Chief of Police also denied any rumors concerning prior planning and said: “The Police Force declares that the crime was definitely an accident” (Mehr News Agency, July 21, 2011). The pressure exerted by public opinion to find him guilty as soon as possible (the result of media reports that also included inaccurate information) increased in an unprecedented fashion, and caused the officials to change their statements to Mr. Mollasltani’s detriment. For instance, according to Mr. Mollasoltani’s brother, the knife that was used in the murder had been purchased three months earlier, but the media soon changed that period to three and even five years prior to the murder. Mr. Mollasoltani had nonetheless never even carried a knife, and the knife in question had been left in the car after their trip to the city of Ardebil the day before. Additionally, there were stories of Mollasoltani being a “child of divorce, and wicked”, the falsity of which could have been proven through some field investigation (Mollasoltani family’s interview with Asseman Weekly).

How did a 17-year-old boy under the influence of alcohol defend himself against “the strongest man in Iran”?

In court, Mr. Mollasoltani said in his own defense that at first, the victim (who was a bodybuilding champion, 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighed 275 pounds according to Wikipedia) slapped him in the face, bloodying it. In response to the judge, who reminded him that the medical examiner had not confirmed that claim, Mr. Mollasoltani said that he had never been taken to the medical examiner’s office in the first place. Mr. Mollasoltani (who, according to his brother, weighed 130 pounds,) was frightened by the victim’s build and realized that he could not put up any resistance. He said that he did not intend to kill the victim but had attacked him out of fear. According to available information, Mr. Mollasoltani only stabbed the victim once, in his throat, which caused bleeding and a blood clot that blocked his air ways. In defense of the defendant, Mr. Mollasoltani’s brother alluded to the possible effect the decision to take Mr. Dadashi to Karaj’s Madani Hospital (which was very far from the scene of the crime, about a thirty-minute drive) had on the victim dying (Mollasoltani family’s interview with Asseman Weekly). Mr. Mollasoltani’s attorney said in court that the defendant had resorted to using a knife in self defense and that his self defense had been legitimate because if he hadn’t stabbed Dadashi, Dadashi would surely have killed him with his blows, that there were no police for miles from the place the event occurred, and that there was no one to help them. Mollasoltani therefore had no choice but to defend himself, argued the lawyer, who also objected to the special attention given to Mr. Mollasoltani’s case.

Another issue is that Mr. Mollasoltani and his friends had consumed alcohol, but the charge of “drinking alcohol” did not come up at trial even though it had been presented at the investigation stage with the investigating judge; this could have refuted the intentionality of the murder. According to a report of the Police Chief for Alborz and Tehran Provinces Information Headquarters, defendant number 2 was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment and 80 lashes for participating in an altercation that resulted in murder, and defendant number 3 was sentenced to 80 lashes for consumption of alcohol (Fars News Agency, September 6, 2011). However, judicial authorities did not provide an explanation regarding the deletion of the charge of “drinking alcohol” from the charges brought against Mr. Mollasoltani. There was another plaintiff at trial who stated that, prior to the murder, Mr. Mollasoltani and his companions had gotten into a fight with him as well at an intersection, but that no knife was used.

According to Mr. Mollasoltani’s brother, he was deprived of an appropriate defense due to the negative media influence. Mr. Mollasoltani’s court-appointed lawyer was also under pressure and was not able to defend him the way he was supposed to.

A Summary of the Legal Defects in Mr. Alireza Mollasoltani’s Case

The most noteworthy aspect of the late Ruhollah Dadashi’s murder case is the timeframe within which the case against the defendant was adjudicated. The murder took place on July 16, 2011, and the execution occurred on September 21 of that same year. In other words, the entire process of adjudication lasted two months. The defendant was interrogated by the police, preliminary investigations were conducted at the prosecutor’s office, the Province Criminal Court tried the case, upon issuing a ruling the case was sent to the Supreme Court for mandatory review, the Supreme Court issued a ruling, the case was sent to the Head of the Judiciary for confirmation of the death sentence, and the necessary steps were then taken for the implementation of the death penalty. All of these actions were completed in just two months. This is while it takes years to adjudicate similar cases. The reason for the brevity of the process was the victim’s fame. Adjudication in such a short period raises doubt as to whether there was ample time to conduct a thorough investigation and whether the defendant had ample opportunity to defend himself. Was the defendant tried in a fair trial? In murder cases, Iran’s judiciary usually delays the implementation of the death penalty in order for the next of kin’s anger to subside and for them to forgive the murderer; such opportunity was not, however, afforded to Mr. Mollasoltani. In other words, the judicial authorities’ haste in executing Mr. Mollasoltani due to the victim’s position was not acceptable. Had there not been such haste, the next of kin might have forgiven him.

Following an official announcement, thousands of people showed up for a teenage boy’s execution 

Another noteworthy aspect is the claim that the defendant committed murder in self defense. The defendant’s attorney also mounted his client’s defense based on self defense. Regardless of the veracity of such a claim, it was incumbent upon the court to conduct the necessary investigations in this regard. In light of the defendant’s age (less than 18 at the time of the murder) and the physical shape of the man who was slain (one of the strongest men in Iran,) it appears that the victim’s conduct at the time the fight broke out frightened the defendant. On account of his age, Mollasoltani acted in an emotionally fraught way with the intention of defending and freeing himself from this fear, killing Dadashi without appreciating what he was doing. The court should have thus taken Mollasoltani’s age into consideration and investigated his mental state at the time of the murder. 

According to available information, Mr. Alireza Mollasoltani was hanged in public and his body was left hanging for 45 minutes. An individual dies within a few minutes after being hanged. The objective of the death penalty is to take the life of the subject and it is necessary for the process to cease after his/her death. The authorities keeping Mr. Mollasoltani’s body hanging after he had died was a violation of the laws and of his dignity as a human being.


Alborz Province Criminal Court Branch One sentenced Mr. Ali Reza Mollasoltani to death. This sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court and confirmed by the Head of the Judiciary. One day after the execution, the prosecutor’s representative said in an interview that from a religious standpoint, Mollasoltani had attained the age of 18 and that by law, the standard to apply is the religious age of majority, which is calculated according to lunar months. According to available information, the judge had told Mr. Mollasoltani’s family that they had until the defendant turned 18 to obtain the next of kin’s forgiveness. However, the sentence was so quickly implemented (only two months after the murder) that they did not have a chance to obtain the forgiveness of the victim’s family. According to Mr. Mollasoltani’s brother, the victim’s family waited until the mourning period was over. In interviews on TV and with the media, Mr. Mollasoltani’s family expressed their sorrow and sympathy to the victim’s family for their loss, but these statements were not broadcast. On the morning of September 21, 2011, Mr. Mollasoltani was hanged from a crane in public, on Karaj’s Golshahr neighborhood’s West Puneh Street, in the presence of the victim’s family and thousands of people. Although Karaj’s prosecutor had issued orders prohibiting media presence as well as picture taking and video cameras, a special spot was provided to reporters, and many regular people videorecorded the hanging.

The authorities kept Mr. Mollasoltani’s body up on the crane for 45 minutes, in public view, and before his father, mother, sister, and brother’s eyes. His body was turned over to his family.

A 17-year-old’s body was kept hanging from a crane for 45 minutes as his mother and sister looked on 

Mr. Mollasoltani’s family fell into distress after his execution. His sister said this about the condition of her family: “My father is 70 years old, and up until now, he never complained about anything in spite of all of life’s hardships. But ever since he saw his son’s hanging, he’s been fading away. How can a father and a mother witness such a scene… He was hanged before my mother’s eyes. Did anyone ever wonder, even for an instant, what was in this mother’s heart? All the “Ya Hosseins” that she uttered made everybody feel for her.” (Mollasoltani family’s interview with Asseman Weekly).


*Other sources: Ebtekar (July 25, 2011), Karaj General and Revolutionary Prosecutor’ Office (July 24, 2011), Borna News (July 24, 2011), Jam-e-Jam, IRNA (July 23, 2011), ISNA Alborz (July 22, 2011), Mehr News Agency (July 21, 2011), Karaj General and Revolutionary Prosecutor’ Office, IRNA, Borna News (July 20, 2011), Mehr News Agency (July 19, 2011), Karaj General and Revolutionary Prosecutor’ Office, IRNA, Borna News, Mehr News Agency (July 18, 2011), IRNA (July 17, 2011), Iran Human Rights Home – RHANA (September 23, 2011). 

Correct/ Complete This Entry