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

Seyed Mostafa J.

About

Age: 23
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam (Shi'a)
Civil Status: Single

Case

Date of Execution: October 15, 2005
Location: Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Execution: Shooting (extrajudicial)
Age at time of offense: 23

Human rights violations in this case

Extrajudicial killings


Since the inception of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979, national and international human rights organizations have blamed the Islamic Republic authorities for the extrajudicial killing of their opponents, both within and outside of Iran's borders. Although over two hundred cases have been reported, the exact number of victims remains unknown.

Extrajudicial executions carried out in Iran are rarely investigated; the few cases that have been investigated have indicated that the Iranian state security apparatus has been involved. Agents of the Islamic Republic have also targeted dissidents outside the country, assassinating opposition members in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and in the United States,.

In many assassination cases outside Iran, local authorities have made no arrests. However, investigations, when they have taken place and been made public, have led to the single hypothesis of State ordered crimes. The organization and execution of these crimes constitute a pattern that Swiss prosecutor Roland Chatelain describes as “common parameters” following a “meticulous preparation.” Similarities between different cases in different countries have created a coherent set of presumptions designating the Islamic Republic as the instigator of these assassinations.

 

In cases involving prominent Iranians assassinated in France, Germany, and Switzerland, local prosecutors have provided evidence linking Iranian authorities to the crimes in question.

 

In France, for example, the Iranian Deputy Minister of Telecommunications has been sentenced to life imprisonment for his involvement in the 1991 murder of two dissidents. In Germany, agents of Iran's secret services and Lebanese Hezbollah have been convicted for the 1992 murder of four dissidents in Berlin. Currently, the Islamic Republic's Minister of Information and Security at the time of this murder is under an International arrest Warrant launched by German judicial authorities for his involvement.

 

The German court in Berlin found that Iran's political leadership ordered the murder through a "Committee for Special Operations," whose members reportedly include the Leader of the Islamic Republic, the President, the Minister of Information and Security, and other security officials.



The Islamic Republic’s officials have claimed responsibility for some of these assassinations while denying involvement in others. In the 1980s, Iranian authorities justified extrajudicial executions of dissidents and members of the former regime and actively worked for the release of Iranians and non-Iranian agents who were detained or convicted in the West for their involvement in those killings. During the 1990s, they systematically denied any involvement in extrajudicial killings and often credited the killings to infighting amongst the opposition.

 

Still, the rationale supporting these killings was articulated as early as in the spring of 1979 when the First Revolutionary religious judge publicly announced the regime's intention to carry out extrajudicial executions. He said:

 

“no state has the right to try as a terrorist the person who kills [exiles] in foreign lands, for this person is implementing the verdict issued by the Islamic Revolutionary tribunal.”

 

More than a decade later, in August, 1992, the Minister of Intelligence and Security publicly boasted about the success of Iran's security forces, alluding to the elimination of dissidents:

 

"We have been able to deal blows to many of the mini-groups outside the country and on the borders...."

Human rights violations

Based on the available information, the following human rights may have been violated in this case:

  • The right to liberty and security of the person. The right not to be subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Article 3; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 9.1.

  • The right not to be punished for any crime on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offence, under national or international law, at the time it was committed.

UDHR, Article 11.2; ICCPR, Article 15, Article 6.2.

  • 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 12, ICCPR, Article 17.1.

  • The right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, including the right to change and manifest one’s religion or belief.

UDHR, Article 18; ICCPR, Article 18.1, ICCPR, Article 18.2; Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, Article 1 and Article 6.

In its general comment 22 (48) of 20 July 1993, the United Nation’s Human Rights Committee observed that the freedom to "have or to adopt" a religion or belief necessarily entailed the freedom to choose a religion or belief, including the right to replace one’s current religion or belief with another or to adopt atheistic views, as well as the right to retain one’s religion or belief. Article 18, paragraph 2, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights bars coercion that would impair the right to have or adopt a religion or belief, including the use of threat of physical force or penal sanctions to compel believers or non-believers to adhere to religious beliefs and congregations, to recant their religion or belief or to convert.

  • The right to freedom of opinion and expression, including the right to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas.

UDHR, Article 19; ICCPR, Article 19.1 and ICCPR, Article 19.2.

  • The right, as a member of a religious or ethnic minority, to enjoy one’s own culture or to profess and practice one’s own religion.

 

UDHR, Article 18; ICCPR, Article 27.

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

UDHR, Article 7; ICCPR, Article 26.

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 14.1 and Article 14.2.

Pre-trial detention rights

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

UDHR, Article 9(2); ICCPR, Article 9.2 and Article 14.3.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 14.3.b and Article 14.3.d; Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, Article 1, Article 2, Article 5, Article 6, and Article 8.

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

ICCPR, Article 14.3.b.

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

ICCPR, Article 14.3.g.

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

ICCPR, Article 7; Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Article 1 and Article 2.

Trial rights

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

ICCPR, Article 14.1, Article 14.3.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 14.3.d and Article 14.3.e.

  • The right to have the decision rendered in public.

ICCPR, Article 14.1.

Judgment rights

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

ICCPR, Article 14.5.

  • The right to seek pardon or commutation of sentence.

ICCPR, Article 6.4.

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

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Article 3; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 6.1; Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, Article 1.1, Article 1.2.

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

ICCPR, Article 7; Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Article 1 and Article 2.

About this Case

23-year-old Seyed Mostafa J. had just finished his military service. One afternoon in the month of Ramadan, he got into his red Landrover and went out to spend time with friends

News of Mr. Seyed Mostafa J.’s passing was published in Ettela’at (October 18, 2005), Iran (October 17, 2005), and Hamshahri (October 17, 2005) newspapers. Additional information about this case was obtained from various media, including Hamshahri (October 18, 2005), Etemad (January 29, 2008), ISNA News Agency (October 6, 2007), and other sources.* At the time of the event, the story attracted the attention of various domestic and foreign media stationed in Iran.

This case is related to Mr. Seyed Mostafa J.’s death. According to the authorities, he was involved in a car chase with police acting on the basis of a phone call received by police dispatch by which an individual had reported that a person or persons were breaking the Ramadan fast in public and turning up the volume of music in a car.

Mr. Seyed Mostafa J. was 23 years old and resided in Tehran’s District 14. He had finished his military service in the Revolutionary Guards two months prior to the incident. According to his brother, Mr. Seyed Mostafa J. was supposed to take his mother (who suffered from cardiac disease) to the doctor on October 15, 2005, but she had asked him not to accompany her to the hospital because he was fasting. According to a person close to Mr. Seyed Mostafa J., he left the house in the afternoon of that same day to spend time with his friends. A few minutes later, however, while he was still alone in the car, he was chased by police officers. Based on available evidence, he was driving a red Land Rover (or Range Rover) near his place of residence in the vicinity of Tehran’s Nabard Street.

Mr. Seyed Mostafa J.’s case is related to a hasty police shooting which resulted in his death.

The Account of the Event

In an effort to apprehend Mr. Seyed Mostafa J., an officer of the Nabard Street 132nd Police Precinct in Tehran’s District 14 shot him six times at close range, severely wounding him. Based on the entirety of the information from various media quoting from the perpetrator, eyewitnesses, judiciary and police officials, and the next of kin’s lawyers, the story unfolded as follows: Subsequent to a phone call to Police 110 at 4:27 PM on the afternoon of October 15, 2005, Nabard Street 132nd Police Precinct patrol officers were told of a suspicious vehicle in the vicinity of Hosseini 35-meter Street. Based on published reports quoting the Tehran Chief of Police, the caller reported “breaking the Ramadan fast in public in a car with the volume of music turned very high”. Based on this report, the police officer became suspicious of Mr. Seyed Mostafa J.’s car and ordered it to stop, but he disregarded the police order and continued on his path, entering Aref Street. According to the perpetrator’s statements, he fired a shot in the air and ordered Mr. Seyed Mostafa to halt, stopped his car once again, and asked him for his identity card. Mr. Seyed Mostafa J. stated that the officer was not the traffic police and disobeyed the police order. This resulted in insults and an altercation between the police officer and the suspect. Mr. Seyed Mostafa J. tried to wrest the weapon that was pointed at him away from the officer. The duty soldier accompanying the police officer intervened and hit the victim on the hand with a club, enabling the officer to recover the weapon and spray him with pepper spray. Mr. Seyed Mostafa J. was able to run away once again, however. The Nabard Street 132nd Police Precinct officer chased Mr. Seyed Mostafa J., even though the latter was no longer in the Precinct’s jurisdiction, and shot at his tires after ordering him to stop. Mr. Seyed Mostafa J. continued to drive, nevertheless, until he was forced to stop in front of Shahid Bahonar Girls School due to heavy traffic caused by the end of the school day. This time, the police officer shot Mr. Seyed Mostafa J. several times at close range from the passenger window, in front of eyewitnesses, injuring him. Saying “Why are you shooting, I haven’t done anything”, Mr. Seyed Mostafa J. dragged himself out of the car, whereupon the officer sprayed him with pepper spray again. Mr. Seyed Mostafa J. fell to the ground. He was left on the ground in that condition for 20 minutes as the police officer searched his car. Thereafter, the soldier put Mr. Seyed Mostafa J. in the police car with the help of two of the neighborhood residents and took him to Mardom Maternity Hospital, which lacked the proper facilities to care for him. Based on available information, after three hours, the police took Mr. Seyed Mostafa J. to the Police Force’s Vali-e Asr Hospital; the doctors were not able to save Mr. Seyed Mostafa J.’s life and he died at that hospital due to the severity of his injuries and severe bleeding.

Different accounts of this event have been given by various people, including the Prosecutor’s Representative, the perpetrator, the soldier accompanying the perpetrator, and eyewitnesses.

According to the Prosecutor’s Representative’s statements at trial, “the Defendant has admitted his actions at various stages, even though his accounts have been conflicting.” The Prosecutor’s Representative considered the act to be intentional murder through the firing of multiple shots which struck the victim’s sensitive areas, and added: “An identified individual called the Khayyam Police Center and said that an individual driving a Land Rover was going around in the park. The matter was registered at the police dispatch center under ‘suspicion of breaking Ramadan fast in public and theft’, and the nearest patrol was informed and dispatched to the location. The Defendant arrived at the scene in a police car along with a duty soldier and turned in front of the victim’s car as soon as he saw it, ordering him to stop and asking for identification papers and the car’s registration document. The victim refused to provide the documents and fled the scene by car. A chase ensued, and at the same time, an order to stop was given again and shots were fired into the air. The Defendant caught up with the victim on two occasions. On the first occasion, as testified by eyewitnesses, he hit the victim in the head with the stock of his rifle, at which point the traffic started to flow again and the victim fled until he got stuck in heavy traffic again. The Defendant then approached the victim’s car and fired at the vehicle’s back tires from a distance of roughly seven yards, flattening both tires. He then approached the victim and hit him again, and then went to the passenger’s side and fired multiple successive shots directly at the victim, approximately five shots from a distance of half an inch to an inch and a half.”

The Prosecutor’s Representative emphasized: “Nothing was discovered upon search of the vehicle; nothing would change even if something had been discovered. The matter of firing shots would have meant something if he’d known drugs were being transported in the vehicle.” According to the Prosecutor’s Representative, ballistics experts confirmed that the bullets extracted from the victim’s body corresponded to the marks left on the [Defendant’s] weapon; they have also determined the trajectory of the shooting. The shots were fired from very close range, from above, and downward as shown by the entry and exit bullet wounds, by way of which the experts have ascertained the approximate distances from which the shots were fired.

Citing the Medical Examiner’s report and stating that these bullets were indeed the cause of death, he said: “All the bullets hit vital organs and this fact has been confirmed and emphasized by various expert opinions sought and rendered in the case.” According to the Prosecutor’s Representative at trial, the Expert Council on the Determination of Instances of the Use of Firearms by Members of the Armed Forces rendered its opinion at two separate stages, and within that context, the opinions of the Identification Administration and of the Judiciary’s Official Experts were sought, all of whom, in addition to the aforementioned Council, declared that firing shots was illegal and outside the scope of regulations at the time of the commission of the murder. The Defendant has also admitted and confessed to the manner in which he acted at various stages, even though he provided conflicting details.

Based on available information, the officer who shot Mr. Seyed Mostafa J. provided conflicting statements in describing the event. At the crime scene re-construction, he stated in reference to the victim being stuck in Delgosha Street traffic that, “I got out of the car and went toward the vehicle. I emptied my weapon on the way. When I got to the driver of the vehicle, he intended to disarm me. I got into an altercation with him… and he fled the scene. I quickly got back into the precinct car and ordered the duty soldier to follow him. I shot in the air once, while in pursuit, but [the victim] did not stop. I shot one of the vehicle’s tires…” Mr. Seyed Mostafa J.’s shooter stated that he threatened the victim from the passenger side the last time the car was stopped, but that the victim attacked him and intended to disarm him once again. That was why he aimed at his leg and shot only three times, then sprayed him in the face to prevent him from running away (Hamshahri, November 7, 2005).

At the last trial session, however, Mr. Seyed Mostafa J.’s shooter described the event as follows: “There were several young people in a red Land Rover at a park where drug transactions regularly take place, all of whom fled and only the driver remained. He put the car in reverse to leave. I tried to prevent him but he fled. I got in the patrol car and asked for instructions from central. They told me to pursue him. I fired several shots in the air and ordered him to stop but he did not and left our jurisdiction. I called central again and was told to pursue him until back up arrived. We informed the precinct that had jurisdiction. The Land Rover entered a crowded street where school had been let out. Traffic was heavy and the [victim] kept using offensive language, asking people to move out of the way. I got out of the car and walked toward him. I aimed my weapon at him and told him to get out of the car. He attacked me and got my weapon and we got into an altercation. He got my weapon. The soldier accompanying me came over and hit him hard on the hand. The weapon dropped. Traffic started to move and he went on the move. We followed him. Central was telling me to keep in pursuit. I even obtained authorization to fire. I was very stressed out. The vehicle stopped. The driver bent over to pick up the steering wheel lock. I intended to shoot him in the leg, I did not want to kill him. I got him out of the car. I looked for a jack to change the tire so I could get him to a hospital. I was so stressed and anxious that I could not think clearly. Then I got him into the police vehicle and took him to the hospital” (Khabar-e Jonub, December 11, 2013).

According to the officer, he had coordinated with his commander in all the stages of the mission (ISNA, October 16, 2007).

The soldier who was driving the police vehicle that day reported that he got out of the vehicle when he realized there was an altercation going on, went toward the victim, and hit him on the hand with a club. He emphasized that he had objected to the officer shooting the victim; he had then gotten the victim into the police vehicle with the help of two young men residing in that neighborhood and had taken him to the hospital. He stated that when the lieutenant (the shooter) got into the vehicle after shooting the victim, “he was in shock and was not able to speak”. According to the soldier, after firing six shots at the victim, the perpetrator then sprayed him with pepper spray (Hamshahri, October 16, 2007).

After shooting Mr. Seyed Mostafa J., the police officer got him out of the car and sprayed him with tear gas, according to an eyewitness. No one dared give the victim water. The duty soldier was very angry and kept telling him, “Why did you do this?” Another eyewitness who had gone to get her child from school stated: “The victim could have run several kids over with his car but he didn’t; he stopped until the children had cleared out. Or he could have fled on foot without his car. The Defendant fired into the car without giving an order to stop. The children were scared. I kept them under my chador. I went forward. The victim opened the car door and fell out. He was asking people for water and kept calling for his mother, but the Defendant did not allow people to help him and kept screaming, ‘He’s a drug trafficker’. The Defendant also had a posture as if he was going to attack the public as well.”

A report to police dispatch described an individual playing music loudly from a car and eating in public during the Ramadan fast. The police officer who showed up to investigate took the life of Seyed Mostafa J.

An eyewitness who had had seen the shooting happen stated: “Our kitchen window opens to the street. I was working in the kitchen when I heard the siren. I immediately went to the window. A red car had stopped in front of our house and the Peykan (an Iranian-made automobile) police car was stopped a short distance from it. A police officer quickly got out of the Peykan and shot the driver with his weapon. A few moments later, the young man fell to the floor, languid, and said, ‘Our home is close by. Somebody tell my parents,’ and passed out.” While the officer who shot Mr. Seyed Mostafa J. had said that he had been in touch with the command center the entire mission, a young man who had been standing in front of his home at the time of the shooting also said: “The patrol police officer asked us to give him a phone so that he could get in touch with the chief of the police precinct. I took him to our yard, brought the phone to the terrace (because he did not enter our home) and he called the precinct. I heard him say. ‘Colonel, I became suspicious of a vehicle on Ahang Highway and ordered it to stop, but he ran away. I shot several shots in the air from there until we reached Khaleghi Street, then he stopped. He cursed at me, I shot him three or four times’. When he finished talking on the phone and left our house, I realized a large number of police cars had come to our alley. A few moments later, when we noticed that the young man’s face had turned completely yellow and he had lost a lot of blood, we put him in the police patrol car and the soldier drove him away. The Range Rover was sitting right there for hours because of its flat back tire which had been shot until, finally, the people from the neighborhood changed the tire and the police took it to the police parking lot.” Several other eyewitnesses made statements along the same lines that the young man was shot at when he was sitting behind the wheel of his car. According to these witnesses, after the police officer stopped the Range Rover, he targeted and shot the young driver from the passenger window of the car (October 19, 2005).

Arrest and detention

Mr. Seyed Mostafa J. was never arrested and was shot and killed by an officer of the Nabard Police Precinct 132 in the course of arrest as a suspect.

Trial

No trial was convened for Mr. Seyed Mostafa J.

Charges

No charges have been reported against Mr. Seyed Mostafa J. The police officer suspected him of “breaking the [Ramadan] fast in public”.

Evidence of guilt

There is no evidence against Mr. Seyed Mostafa J. Officers of Tehran’s Nabard Street 132nd Police Precinct followed him subsequent to a call that had come in to Police 110 [dispatch] reporting several young men breaking the Ramadan fast in public in a car.

Defense

Mr. Seyed Mostafa J. never had an opportunity to defend himself.

Judgment

Mr. Seyed Mostafa J.’s case never went to trial; therefore, no judgment was issued in the case.

Government Officials’ Actions and Statements

The investigation into the shooting of Mr. Seyed Mostafa J. led to the arrest of the police officer who fired. The case went on for years and conflicting information was published by police officials regarding the event, the cause of the shooting, the police officer’s responsibility, and even the victim himself.

Mr. Seyed Mostafa J.’s case was still active when Mohammad Hossein Farhangi, member of the Islamic Consultative Assembly’s (Parliament or “Majless”) Legal and Judicial Commission stated that the law protects law enforcement and judicial officers who are performing their duties to implement the law, and added: “An officer in the course of performing his legal duties, all the while observing current regulations and procedure, whose [actions] result in the death of an accused person or criminal, has no criminal responsibility.” According to Farhangi, if in the course of performing duties a law enforcement or judicial officer causes the death of an accused or a criminal through negligence, the investigating judge can issue his ruling taking into account mitigating or aggravating circumstances, given the nature of the defendant’s crime, in terms of the severity thereof. As a general principle, however, a law enforcement agent is protected by the law (Hamshahri, October 26, 2005).

Based on available information, a criminal case was opened at the Tehran Prosecutor’s Office for Criminal Affairs against the Nabard Street 132nd Police Precinct lieutenant who had shot and killed Mr. Seyed Mostafa J. He was arrested and interrogated and a 30-million-Tuman bail was set for him. Based on available information, the crime scene was re-constructed in the afternoon of November 5, 2005, in the presence of the second lieutenant charged with shooting Mr. Seyed Mostafa J. and the soldier accompanying him, in full police uniform. The Prosecutor’s Representative was not present at the crime re-construction scene, however, and according to the next of kin, eyewitness testimony was not given sufficient hearing.  

Based on available information, the trial was conducted in three sessions. In the first session, convened at Criminal Court Branch 71 on October 16, 2007, the Prosecutor’s Representative stated that there was a difference of opinion between the Investigative Judge and the Assistant Prosecutor regarding the charge. Resolution of the dispute was assigned to Tehran General Court Branch 1023. The latter court’s judge ruled in favor of the Assistant Prosecutor and the intentional nature of Mr. Seyed Mostafa J.’s murder by the police officer was established. According to the Tehran General Court Branch 1023 Judge, there was quite a bit of evidence indicating the intentional nature of the murder and the fact that none of the provisions of the Law on the Use of Firearms were observed, since, in essence, the Defendant had no right to shoot.

In describing the latter point, the Prosecutor’s Representative stated that one is not allowed to shoot suspects, and added: “Instances where shooting at a vehicle is permitted have been defined in the law. one of the most important being fleeing a stop and search sign. Since there are no such signs inside the city, the Defendant’s defense is therefore devoid of legal credence and not acceptable by the court.”

According to the Prosecutor’s Representative, the ballistics experts confirmed that the bullets extracted from the victim’s body corresponded to the marks left on the Defendant’s weapon. They also determined the trajectory of the shooting: the shots were fired from very close range, from above, and downward as shown by the entry and exit bullet wounds, by way of which the experts have ascertained the approximate distances from which the shots were fired.

Citing the Medical Examiner’s report and stating that these bullets were indeed the cause of death, he said: “All the bullets hit vital organs and that fact has been confirmed and emphasized by various expert opinions sought and rendered in the case.” According to the Prosecutor’s Representative at trial, the Expert Council on the Determination of Instances of the Use of Firearms by Members of the Armed Forces rendered its opinion at two separate stages, and within that context, the opinions of the Identification Administration and of the Judiciary’s Official Experts were sought, all of whom, in addition to the aforementioned Council, declared that firing shots was illegal and outside the scope of regulations at the time of the commission of the murder (ISNA, January 28, 2008).

On that basis, Tehran Province Criminal Court Branch 71 sentenced the shooting police officer to death, stating that the next of kin had asked for Qesas (retribution). Upon appeal, the ruling was overturned in January 2008 by the Supreme Court, and remanded for a new trial (Iran newspaper, October 17, 2007, and ISNA, January 28, 2008). Criminal Court Branch 74 tried the case again in mid-September 2009, and the officer who had shot Mr. Seyed Mostafa J. was sentenced to death for “intentional murder” once again in accordance with the victim’s family’s wishes (Etemad, September 17, 2009). By paying Diah (“blood money”) to the family, the Police Force convinced the next of kin (who were asking for Qesas) to forgive the officer; the third trial was therefore convened on December 10, 2013, to adjudicate only the public aspect of the crime in the case (Khabar-e Jonub, December 11, 2013).

The day after the event, the official in charge of the Greater Tehran Police Force’s Public Information Center announced that the officers believed that the vehicle could potentially have been stolen, and that was why they had shot in Mr. Seyed Mostafa J.’s direction. According to this official, Mr. Seyed Mostafa J.’s actions in trying to disarm the officer and then fleeing the scene was the reason why he was shot (Hamshahri, October 17, 2005).

Two days after the publication of the news of this event in the media, the then-Commander of the Greater Tehran Police Force, Morteza Talai, expressed his sorrow at Mr. Seyed Mostafa J.’s death. Stating that the police force was bound by the law and the decisions of judicial authorities, he said that police officers were chasing the suspect with sirens running, but that Mr. Seyed Mostafa J. had not heeded the order to halt. He asked the general population to stop immediately upon hearing police stop orders and to cooperate with the police “so that these types of actions can be prevented” (Hamshahri, October 18, 2005). On November 5, 2005, the Greater Tehran Police Force Commander anticipated that the Defendant would be fired from the Islamic Republic of Iran Police Force (Hamshahri, November 5, 2005). According to Mr. Seyed Mostafa J.’s aunt, on the 21stnight of the month of Ramadan, Mr. Talai went to the victim’s home accompanied by Police Precinct 132’s chief, offered his condolences to the victim’s parents, and stated: “Rest assured that the adjudication of the case will proceed justly.” Furthermore, a number of police officials attended Mr. Seyed Mostafa J.’s burial and funeral services (November 13, 2005).

The Tehran Criminal Prosecutor’s Office Branch Four Investigative Judge stated that certain people connected with the case had tried to have the Military Court prosecute the case, but that he considered it within his own jurisdiction. He stated that the shooter had taken action upon being informed by Police Central Dispatch that the car was a stolen vehicle, and that the ensuing skirmish had resulted in Mr. Seyed Mostafa J.’s death. Regarding Police 110’s report of the public breaking of the Ramadan fast and the high volume of the music coming from the car, the investigative judge stated: “Attorneys say things in defense of their clients that may perhaps not be based on evidence.” Regarding the publication of news of the discovery of crack inside the victim’s car, the investigative judge stated that such a thing had been alluded to but that he had not seen any evidence (Hamshahri, October 20 and 23, 2005).

The police officer who shot Mr. Seyed Mostafa J. stated: “I was doing my duty as a police officer. I have been in jail without leave for more than six years. I was ensuring people’s security, and that’s why the Police Force supported me and paid the money that the next of kin were asking for.” He asked the court for a lighter sentence for the public aspect of the crime (Khabar-e Jonub, December 11, 2013).

The Family’s Objections and Statements

Quoting the victim’s brother, the French News Agency (AFP) wrote: “Even if what the officers say is true, is death the punishment for breaking the Ramadan fast in public?”

Mr. Seyed Mostafa J.’s brother denied the charge of breaking the Ramadan fast in public and stated: “Even if what the officers say is true, is death the punishment for breaking the Ramadan fast in public?” (Etemad Melli, May 28, 2007).

Mr. Seyed Mostafa J.’s aunt, who was representing the victim’s family at the Prosecutor’s Office, stated that her nephew had no prior criminal record and added that one month before the incident he had gone to his sister’s home with one of his relatives to reconcile his sister with her husband. Because of a fight that had ensued, he had spent two days at the Nabard Street 132ndPolice Precinct where the shooter was stationed. According to Mr. Seyed Mostafa J.’s aunt, the eyewitnesses were not given ample opportunity to recount their observations at the crime scene re-construction. Furthermore, the Investigative Judge was also not present at the re-construction. In describing the scene, she said: “Apparently Seyed Mostafa had initially stopped the car but the Defendant’s violent behavior resulted in an altercation between them, and Seyed Mostafa had ultimately gotten back into his car and fled. A chase ensued and Seyed Mostafa finally stopped in front of Bahonar School. The Defendant, who could easily have arrested him, shot him five times and severely injured him” (Hamshahri, November 13, 2005).

Mr. Seyed Mostafa J.’s aunt stated: “Seyed Mostafa’s parents had seem him at the hospital when he was still alive, and had even heard him ask for water; but the doctor’s efforts to save Seyed Mostafa were futile because he was late in reaching the hospital. Seyed Mostafa had been taken to the Police Force hospital three hours after he had been wounded, and his condition had gotten much worse in that time period, ultimately resulting in his death” (Hamshahri, November 13, 2005). She took issue with her nephew being declared a hardened criminal who was in possession of crack. She alluded to the Greater Tehran Police Force Commander and the chief of Nabard Street’s 132ndPolice Precinct going to the victim’s home in order to pay their respects to the family, as well as Police Force officials attending Mr. Seyed Mostafa J.’s burial and funeral services, and said: “This is a sign that they regret the death of our loved one. How is it then that the media declared Seyed Mostafa a hardened criminal who was killed after a police chase? It would be hard to believe that police officials would attend funeral services for a hardened criminal who had been killed by one of their officers and send flowers to the services.” She denied that her nephew had a criminal record and stated: “One month before the incident, he had gone to his sister’s home with one of his relatives to reconcile his sister with her husband, but the visit ended in a family altercation. He ended up at Nabard Street 132ndPolice Precinct, where the shooter also worked, and spent two days in detention. This was Seyed Mostafa’s only interaction with police precincts in the course of his 22-year life.”

Mr. Seyed Mostafa J.’s aunt said: “What started this police chase that ended in Seyed Mostafa’s death was, according to the Defendant, a report coming through police dispatch that several people were breaking the Ramadan fast inside an automobile. This has now been proven to be false: Seyed Mostafa was alone in the car, and no evidence of breaking the Ramadan fast was obtained from him” (Hamshahri, December 13, 2005).

One of Mr. Seyed Mostafa J.’s family’s attorneys stated in court that excess in any field can result in corruption, and added: “When there is too much freedom, it results in chaos; excessive wealth leads to corruption, and unlimited power leads to authoritarianism; but excess in justice is a desirable thing.” At this point the judge reminded him to “defend your clients; don’t go off on tangents.” The attorney emphasized the point that the Defendant was in law enforcement, and alluded to the officer who had shot Mr. Seyed Mostafa J. being free on very little bail, and said: “There are 200 million and 300 million Tuman bails set for crimes like libel and publication of falsehoods, but bail was only set at 30 million Tumans for this Defendant. As a guardian of justice, I ask the court for a review of this matter. Theoretically, there is a principle in issuing orders whereby there must be a logical connection between the order and the crime. Unfortunately, this was not the case here and certain undeniable principles were not observed in this case.” Noting that the lawyers were not allowed to take the case on at the Criminal Prosecutor’s Office, he stated: “The judge’s representative can intervene only when the interests and expediencies of governmental organization are in danger of being destroyed.” Adding that the attorney has the right to defend for four hours, he emphasized: “This was an intentional murder and the law is very clear on its punishment” (ISNA, October 16, 2007).

In his preliminary statements, one of the three attorneys for the victim’s family stated: “The police can use weapons when it is absolutely necessary; when, for instance, a person attacks with firearms or cold weapons, which is not the case here, the victim not having used any weapons. The second reason for use of weapons is for self defense againt one or multiple individuals, where it is not possible to defend oneself without resorting to weapons, but there was no attack on the Defendant by the victim in this case. The third reason is when an officer observes that one or more people have been attacked, or that, in order to apprehend a thief or people who have committed an act of terrorism, destruction, or caused explosion are fleeing, he must resort to the use of firearms; no such conditions were present in this case” (Hamshahri, October 20, 2007).

Describing the shooting and noting the investigations conducted with 20 eyewitnesses, another one of the attorneys representing Mr. Seyed Mostafa J.’s family said: “A number of forms were distributed among neighborhood residents and several mothers of students who attended the school where the shooting occurred, and they unanimously stated the following: On Saturday, October 15, 2005, at 4:30 PM, following the dismissal of Shahid Bahonar Girls School and the resulting crowd assembled in Delgosha Alley for student pick up, a red Land Rover entered the alley in order to skip the Khaleghi Street turn, and was forced to stop because of the heavy traffic inside the alley caused by students going back and forth. At the same time, a Nabard 132 Police Precinct Peykan patrol car stopped behind said car, and the police officer shot at Mr. Seyed Mostafa J.’s tire. The police officer immediately got out of the patrol car, went to the right hand side of the car, and in conditions where the victim showed no resistance and had not disarmed the officer, fired multiple shots, severely wounding the victim. According to eyewitness testimony, after the shots were fired and the victim had exited the vehicle, the perpetrator proceeded to use pepper spray on the victim’s face” (ISNA, October 22, 2005).

According to the next of kin’s attorney, there is no evidence or eyewitness testimony supporting the perpetrator’s initial statements regarding multiple stop orders addressed to the victim (ISNA, October 22, 2005).

According to one of the attorneys for the victim’s family, the victim’s clothes were thrown away due to what was described as negligence, in spite of the Investigative Judge’s order to submit the clothes to the Identification Administration for the purpose of examining the entry holes and determining whether they corresponded with the bullet entry points (Hamshahri, November 5, 2005).

The next of kin’s attorneys also objected to the manner of re-construction of the crime scene, and insistently asked the authorities to hear the statements of some of the eyewitnesses. One of the eyewitnesses said: “I turned around when I heard the gunshot. I saw the Defendant get out of the car. He quickly went toward the young man and fired three shots. There was no altercation between them. The victim opened the door and said: ‘What I have I done? Why are you shooting?’ The Defendant then sprayed his face with pepper spray. Another soldier got out of the car and as he was banging on the hood of the hood of the car said: ‘What have you done? You’ve ruined us.’ It took them 20 minutes to take the young man to the hospital. The Defendant was screaming, ‘I had authorization to shoot’. When the police arrived, they started searching the young man’s car instead of taking him to the hospital, and they found nothing” (Hamshahri, November 7, 2005).

The victim’s family’s attorney criticized the fact that Mr. Seyed Mostafa J.’s body had not been turned over to the family and was still in the possession of the Medical Examiner, despite the fact that eight days had passed since the murder (Hamshahri, October 23, 2005).

Noting that the indictment issued for the Defendant was based on intentional murder, the other attorney for the next of kin stated: “It’s been two years since Seyed Mostafa’s murder. There have been many injustices associated with the case in that time: the Defendant intended to change the direction of the case from the beginning, and he succeeded in doing that. Had it not been for the Assistant Prosecutor and the Deputy Prosecutor’s acuity, it is not clear where the case would have gone.” He posed this question to the judges: “Why does a police officer claim that drugs were discovered in the victim’s car?” Noting the police officer’s aggression toward the victim, he said: “It caused the victim, who had no prior criminal record, to flee, at a time when he had not been charged with any crimes.” Stating that a 30 million Tuman bail is not appropriate for someone charged with murder, Mr. Seyed Mostafa J.’s family’s attorney asked that appropriate bail be set (ISNA, October 16, 2007).

Though it seems on the basis of available information that authorities had initially accepted responsibility for this murder, there was a later effort to make it look legitimate through publication of contradictory information, thereby creating a dispute between judicial authorities (the Assistant Prosecutor and the Investigative Judge). After Mr. Seyed Mostafa J.’s murder was proven to have been intentional in two separate courts, the Police Force, in support of the shooting officer, obtained the next of kin’s forgiveness (and agreement to forego retribution, “Qesas,” by paying blood money, “Diah”). Twelve years after Mr. Seyed Mostafa J.’s murder, however, it is not clear what type of punishment the police officer was subjected to, and how this case ended.

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*Other sources:

Iran newspaper (October 18 and 19, 2005), Sharq newspaper (October 20, 2005), Etemad newspaper (October 17, 2007, April 8, 2007, October 16 and 17, 2007, September 17, 2009), ISNA news agency (October 22, 2005, January 28, 2008), Etemad Melli newspaper (June 16, 2006), Hamshahri newspaper (October 20, 23, 24, 26, and 29, 2005, November 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, and 14, 2005), Iska News website (May 28, 2007), Tose’eh newspaper (June 16, 2006), Khabar-e Jonub newspaper (December 11, 2013), Iran Press News (October 18, 2005), Mardomsalari newspaper (December 30, 2008), Tabnak website (September 17, 2009), Aftab website (October 29, 2005, November 6, 12, and 14, 2005). 

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