Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Mahmud Barati


Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Married


Date of Killing: September 7, 2015
Location of Killing: Qezel Hesar Prison, Karaj, Alborz Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Drug related offense

About this Case

News of the execution of Mr. Mahmud Barati, along with several others, was published on the websites of HRANA (Human Rights Activists News Agency) and the Iran Human Rights Organization on September 7, 2015. Additional information was taken from the Amnesty International statement on September 7, 2015 and the website of Iran Human Rights Organization on September 9, 2015.

Mr. Barati was a teacher in Tayyebat who also worked as a part time taxi driver. His only son was 3 years old when he was arrested and, 12 years old when he was executed. His brother, Ahmad Barati, was on the death row at Fashfuyeh Prison in Tehran at the time. In a statement published several hours before his execution, Amnesty International called Mr. Barati’s proceedings unfair and demanded a stop on his execution.

According to the existing information, in the summer of 2006, Ahmad Barati, Mr. Barati’s brother, was arrested in Robat-Karim, Tehran, and condemned to death for transportation and possession of half a kilogram of crack. Mr. Barati went to Tehran, along with his mother and his sister, hoping to prevent the execution of his brother. Since the recovered narcotics did not belong to his brother and a friend gave them to him to sell, Mr. Barati pressured the narcotics’ owner to save his brother. This was going on for several months before the narcotics’ owner was arrested for possession of 5.5 kilograms of crack. Imagining that Mr. Barati was responsible for his arrest, the narcotics’ owner claimed that he had purchased the recovered narcotics from Mr. Barati and his mother and his sister to revenge them. Therefore, the warrant for arresting Mr. Barati was issued. (Iran Human Rights Organization, quoting a Barati family member)

Arrest and detention

Mr. Barati was arrested, along with his mother and his sister, in the summer of 2006. According to the Amnesty International report, quoting a source at Qezelhesar Prison, Mr. Barati was tortured for ten days at the Drug Control Headquarters to confess against himself.


The Islamic Revolutionary Court of Robat-Karim tried Mr. Barati (Iran Human Rights Organization). No information is available on his trial.


The charge brought against Mr. Barati was announced as “selling 5.5 kilograms of crack.”  

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, 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 information, the evidence presented against Mr. Barati was his “confession” and the confession of the person who was arrested for possession of narcotics. This person told the court that he had purchased the narcotics from Mr. Barati and his mother and his sister.

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.


After his interrogation was over, Mr. Barati revoked his confession regarding the possession of narcotics in the presence of the Public Prosecutor, and during his trial (Amnesty International). He stated that he was coerced to confess due to harassment and with a promise made by his interrogator to release his family. His interrogator told him in order to close the case he could accept the charge and then deny it in his trial so his mother and his sister would be released. But the court did not pay any attention to his statement. The only other evidence against Mr. Barati was the confession of the person who was arrested with the narcotics. In a letter to the court, this person indicated that his “confession” was not right and Mahmud Barati was not the owner of the recovered narcotics. He had made up such confession to avenge him. But the court did not pay attention to this letter. Before being executed in 2011, this person wrote another letter indicating that he did not purchase the recovered narcotics from Mahmud Barati. The real owner of narcotics was executed that day and the execution of Mr. Barati was postponed for further investigation. The prison authorities sent the letter to the court; however, the court again did not pay any attention to it. With the revoking of Mr. Barati’s confession and the correction letters by the person who shared the charge, no real evidence existed against Mr. Barati. (Iran Human Rights Organization)  

A Summary of the Legal Defects in the Adjudication of Mr. Mahmud Barati’s Case

According to an accepted criminal law principle, confessions, testimonies, and other evidence are valid only when accurate. In other words, if the judge determines that the defendant’s confession is not true and accurate or there is doubt as to its accuracy, he cannot rely on such confession and issue a ruling based thereon. In the present case, drugs were recovered from another individual who declared Mahmud Barati to be the owner thereof. Based on available information, Mahmud Barati was forced to make a confession in the preliminary investigations stage under pressure and duress from police officers. He subsequently denied this confession in court,  stating that it was given under torture and based on a promise by judicial authorities to release his family members. Under Iranian law, torture and duress of the defendant is illegal and considered to be a crime, and confessions obtained in this manner are without credibility and legal value. Principle 38 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran provides: “All forms of torture for the purpose of extracting confessions or acquiring information are forbidden. Compulsion of individuals to testify, confess, or take an oath is not permissible, and any testimony, confession, or oath obtained under duress is devoid of value and credibility. Violation of this article is liable to punishment in accordance with the law.” Similarly, the Law on Respecting Legitimate Freedoms and Protecting Citizens Rights of 2004, Paragraph 9, provides: “All manner of torture of the accused to obtain a confession or to force him/her to do any other act is prohibited. Any confessions thus obtained have no legal merit or legitimacy.” The law even considers the extraction of an admission through torture to be a crime and those who commit such an act, criminals. It was therefore incumbent upon the judge to conduct the necessary investigations after the defendant’s claim. Furthermore, pursuant to Iranian law, including the Islamic Penal Code and the Law on General and Revolutionary Courts Rules of Criminal Procedure, admissions and confessions are legally valid only when made before the ruling judge. Confessions made before the investigating judge or law enforcement officials cannot be cited as evidence in the judge’s ruling. The Law on General and Revolutionary Courts Rules of Criminal Procedure, Note to Article 59 provides: “In cases where the court issues a ruling based on the defendant’s confession, or a witness’ testimony, or a testimony about a witness’ testimony, it is mandatory that such confession and/or testimony be made before the court.” It was therefore imperative that the court interrogate Mahmud Barati once again and ascertain the accuracy and the veracity of the confession. Furthermore, subsequent to the issuance of the ruling, the person from whom the drugs were recovered declared that he had given false testimony in order to take revenge, and that the drugs did not belong to Mahmud Barati. As a consequence, Mahmud Barati’s confession was without legal effect and credibility, and the witness who had provided the incriminating testimony denied the veracity of his own testimony. Nevertheless, judicial authorities did not reconsider Mahmud Barati’s sentence and executed him without any evidence of the crime.


The Islamic Revolutionary Court of Robat-Karim condemned Mr. Mahmud Barati to death. He had once gone to the gallows in 2011. However, he was hanged at the Qezelhesar Prison in Karaj on September 7, 2015. His family, who live in Tayyebat, had no chance to visit him for the last time. When they arrived at the Qezelhesar Prison, the ruling had already been carried out.   

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