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

Fardin Hosseini

About

Age: 38
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam (Shi'a)
Civil Status: Married

Case

Date of Execution: January 21, 2016
Location: Kermanshah Province, Iran
Mode of Execution: Hanging
Charges: Murder
Age at time of offense: 32

Human rights violations in this case

The Legal Context

The Courts

 

Islamic Revolutionary Courts, 11 February 1979-1994

 

In the immediate aftermath of the 11 February 1979 Revolution, an ad hoc tribunal, initially referred to as the Extraordinary Revolutionary Tribunal, was set up to try the officials of the previous regime, for which no specific procedures were devised. In a decree dated 24 February 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini, the revolutionary religious leader, appointed a cleric as Shari’a Judge and instructed him “to issue Shari’a-based rulings,” thereby establishing the foundation of a system of special courts.

 

Initially, the revolutionary courts’ jurisdiction was determined by the religious judge’s interpretation of the Shari’a (Islamic law based on the teachings of the Qur’an, the traditions of the Prophet, the 12 imams, and the teachings of Shi’a scholars. On 17 June 1979, the Revolutionary Courts and the Prosecutor’s Office Rules of Procedure, which was only selectively observed, established the latter’s jurisdiction and make-up.

 

The Courts’ jurisdiction encompassed a wide array of offenses including moharebeh (“waging war with God”), efsad e fel arz (“spreading corruption on Earth”), crimes against national and international security, economic crimes, murder, profiteering, prostitution, rape, and narcotic drugs-related crimes. The law required that two of the three principal members of the Revolutionary Courts be Shari’a judges.

 

 

Islamic Revolutionary Courts, 1994-2002

 

With the adoption of the Law for the Establishment of General and Revolutionary Courts of 14 June 1994, and the Code of Criminal Procedure for General and Revolutionary Courts of 19 September 1999, a uniform code of procedure was applied to both revolutionary and general courts. The jurisdiction of the Revolutionary Courts was limited to 6 categories of offenses:

1. Crimes against national and international security,“moharebeh” (enmity with god) and “efsad e fel arz” (corruption on earth;)

2. defaming Ayatollah Khomeini and the Supreme Leader;

3. plotting against the Islamic Republic of Iran, armed action, terrorism, and sabotage;

4. espionage;

5. smuggling and drug-related crimes; 6. claims under Principle 49 (economic crimes) of the Constitution.

 6. Furthermore, pursuant to the Law on the Manner of Punishing Individuals Engaged in Unauthorized Audio and Visual Activities, Article 11, the revolutionary courts have jurisdiction over crimes that fall within the purview of said Law, including production and distribution of obscene materials and misuse and abuse thereof.

These courts continued, however, to try cases falling outside their jurisdiction, such as theft and sexual offenses. Further, the vagueness of laws regarding national security allowed the revolutionary courts to try political and media crimes whenever they wished to do so.

 

The new law eliminated the Prosecutor’s Office and gave the judges inthe Revolutionary Courts the power to perform the duties of the prosecutor, as well as their own, in any case brought before them.

 

Islamic Revolutionary Courts, 2002-Present

 

The Amended Law for the Establishment of General and Revolutionary Courts of 2002 reinstated the Prosecutor’s Office in both revolutionary and general courts. In cases involving political and media crimes, revolutionary courts’ jurisdiction overlaps with that of Province Criminal Courts.

 

With the passage of the new Rules of Criminal Procedure in 2014, and its coming into force in June 2015, the jurisdiction of the revolutionary courts remains unchanged, with slight modifications in procedural aspects of adjudication. For instance, the new law provides that for crimes subject to the death penalty, life imprisonment, amputation, third degree, or higher, the revolutionary court shall convene with three judges, whereas, prior to the passage of this law, adjudication of all crimes within the jurisdiction of revolutionary courts took place with only a single judge.

The Appellate System of Revolutionary Courts, 1979-Present

 

From their inception until 1994, the rulings of the Revolutionary Courts were not subject to appeal. In the early 1980s a court entitled the Supreme Court of Qom was established in the city of Qom and which reviewed cases of execution and confiscation of properties, thereby forming a first tier form of appeal. The exact date of the creation of the court is not clear, but, based on available information, the court became operational in the early 1980s, even though Ayatollah Khomeini's official order for its creation is dated 1985. The court’s procedure was not systematic and did not meet the international standards for a court of appeals; there was no official record of its jurisdiction. The Supreme Court of Qom was dissolved in 1989.

 

The Law of 14 June 1994 subjected the Courts’ decisions to appeal. An appellate court was established at each provincial capital, called the Province Court of Appeals, composed of a three-judge panel, to review decisions made by the Revolutionary Courts. The Supreme Court was designated as the appellate authority for particular decisions, including those involving capital punishment.

 

Narcotic drugs-related crimes constitute a significant exception to the appeals process. Governed by the Anti-Narcotic Drugs Law of 1988, as Amended on 8 November 1997 and 31 July 3 2010, these crimes are within the jurisdiction of, and are adjudicated on a regular basis by, Revolutionary Courts whose decisions are final. After being handed down by the judge, death sentences are sent to the Prosecutor General or the Head of the Supreme Court as a matter of administrative approval.

 

With the passage of the new Rules of Criminal Procedure in 2014 (and its coming into force in June 2015), however, drug related crimes became subject to appeal as well.

General Courts, 1979-1982

 

In cases not falling under the jurisdiction of the Revolutionary Courts, the system devised under the previous regime continued to function in parallel with new systems devised by laws passed by the Judicial Council, one of which, entitled The Legal Bill for the Establishment of General Courts of 11 September 1979, radically changed the entire structure and categorization of the courts. It divided the courts in three branches: Criminal, Civil, and Peace (a sort of arbitration court dealing with minor financial and other disputes). Specialized courts such as family courts were eliminated.

 

General Courts, 1982-1994

 

The Law of the Amendments to the Rules of Criminal Procedure of 1982 established a new criminal courts system, Criminal Courts I and II. Criminal Court I, established only in provincial capitals, had jurisdiction over more serious offenses, including those punishable by death, and Criminal Court II heard less serious crimes.

 

General Courts, 1994-2002

 

The Law for the Establishment of General and Revolutionary Courts of 14 June 1994 established umbrella courts called General Courts, which replaced and dissolved pre-existing civil and criminal courts. The law dissolved the Prosecutor’s offices and tasked a single person with the roles of judge, prosecutor, and investigator.

 

General Courts, 2002-2015

 

In 2002, the 1994 Law was amended, reviving the role of the Prosecutor’s Office in General Courts. The prosecution offices were re-established in a gradual process over several years. The amended law also re-established specialized branches within general courts dealing separately with criminal and civil matters. In addition, this law allocated a number of branches of the Province Court of Appeals to have original jurisdiction over a number of cases including the most serious offenses, as well as political and media crimes. In these cases, the branches are called the Province Criminal Court.

 

General Courts, 2015 to Today

 

With the passage of the new Rules of Criminal Procedure in 2014 and its coming into force in June 2015, general courts underwent certain changes as well. Criminal courts were divided into Criminal Court One, Criminal Court Two, Military Court, Juvenile Court, and Revolutionary Court. Criminal Court One has jurisdiction over serious crimes such as those subject to the death penalty, life imprisonment, amputation, third degree, and higher, as well as political and media crimes. Criminal Court Two has jurisdiction over other crimes. Another change consists of the establishment of juvenile courts, which adjudicates crimes committed by individuals less than 18 years of age. In cases where the individuals less than 18 commit serious crimes such as those subject to the death penalty, however, Criminal Court One will have jurisdiction, observing rules of juvenile criminal procedure.

 

The Appellate System of General Courts, 1979-Present

 

The Legal Bill for the Establishment of General Courts of 11 September 1979, abolished appeal of most criminal courts’ decisions. The law of 1982 restricted the appeal possibility even further. According to the Islamic Republic authorities’ interpretation of Islamic Law, a qualified jurist’s decisions were not subject to appeal except under special circumstances, such as when the judge realized his own mistake, or another judge advised him so, or when he did not have jurisdiction over the case. Even in such situations, the case would not go to a higher court but would be subject to review by the same judge or another judge at his level. The judges were even urged to call their verdicts “opinions,” so that the possible change in the verdict would not be “haram” (“sinful,” the highest level of prohibition in Islam, disobedience of which would result in a sin).

 

In October 1988, the Majles (Iranian parliament) passed a law regarding review of court judgments. This law provided for an appeal if the conviction was claimed to be based on invalid documentation or false testimony. The defendant could also base an appeal on a point of law or a procedural violation.

 

The appellate system was expanded in other laws in the late 1980s and in 1993. The Law for the Establishment of Criminal Courts I and II of 11 July 1989 created the Branches of the Supreme Court. Crimes of less importance, tried in Criminal Court II, were subject to review by Criminal Court I.

 

For the most important crimes involving death punishment, which were under the jurisdiction of Criminal Court I, the law allowed limited appeal to the Branches of the Supreme Court. Defendants had the right to petition the Supreme Court for appeal in certain cases involving false testimony or procedural violations, and if granted, the case would be remanded to either another criminal court or the original one.

 

Finally, the Law for the Establishment of General and Revolutionary Courts of 1994, as amended in 2002, established an appellate court at each provincial capital, called Province Court of Appeals, composed of a three-judge panel, to review decisions made by both general and revolutionary courts. The Supreme Court was designated as the appellate authority for particular decisions, including those carrying the death penalty, as well as decisions made by the Province Criminal Court.

 

The amended law of 2002, continued the appellate procedure to the Branches of the Supreme Court established by the afore-mentioned law of 11 July 1989

 

The Supreme Court continues to be the competent authority to rule on new trials, which have been provided for in limited circumstances.

With the passage of the new Rules of Criminal Procedure in 2014 and its coming into force in June 2015, the Court of Appeals shall be the competent authority to hear appeals from Criminal Court Two decisions, and the Supreme Court shall hear appeals from Criminal Court One decisions.

Special Courts for the Clergy

 

These courts are rooted in a 1979 decree, issued by Ayatollah Khomeini, which established a committee of religious and noble figures in every region to purge the clergy of anti-revolutionary elements under the supervision of the Revolutionary Courts. Between late 1981 and 1984, a special court in the city of Qom handled, though not systematically, the trial of clerics.

 

On 29 July 1987, Ayatollah Khomeini officially appointed a prosecutor and a member of the clergy as Shari’a judge for Special Courts for the Clergy. On 6 August 1990, a directive was issued regulating the conduct of these courts, the jurisdictional ambiguity of which is such that it effectively extends to “anyone where one of the parties is a cleric” and to “all matters in which the Court is designated as competent by the Supreme Leader.”

 

The court, which was not mentioned in the Islamic Republic's constitution, was mandated to try “pseudo clerics, those related to/connected with the clergy, for public and/or anti-revolutionary crimes, and violations of the prestige of the clergy,” and where the principal suspect is a member of the clergy, “any co-conspirator or assistant, whether a cleric or not.”

 

These courts are generally not open to the public and can issue sentences for all acts and omissions punishable under codified Iranian laws or Shari’a or for any other acts or omissions which can bring dishonor to the clergy or to the Islamic Revolution. Further, in certain particular cases – which have not been defined – where no punishment has been devised by either the Penal Code or even the Shari’a, the Court “can rule as it deems fit.” 

 

The Appellate System of the Special Court for the Clergy, 1979-Present

 

There is no information on any appeal process for the Special Court for the Clergy prior to the 1990 directive. Article 49 of said directive set up, however, an appeals court called Special Appellate Court for the Clergy, the head of which is appointed by the Supreme Leader, to which the decisions of the lower court can be appealed.

 

Military Courts

 

The military court system, independent from the judiciary under the previous regime, became a part of it on 1 December 1981. The Judiciary Organization of the Armed Forces, established in 1986, replaced and merged other military courts and tribunals in existence at the time, namely the pre-revolution Judiciary Organization of the Army, the Revolutionary Tribunal of the Army (established on 8 December 1979), and the Revolutionary and General Court for the Revolutionary Guards (established on 15 July 1979.) The Judiciary Organization of the Armed Forces has its own Criminal Code and follows the country’s general rules of criminal procedure.

 

The Law of the Criminal Procedure of the Armed Forces of 15 May 1985 created Military Courts I and II. Military Court I has jurisdiction over more serious offenses, including those punishable by death, and Military Court II hears less serious crimes.

 

The Appellate System of Military Courts, 1979-Present

 

The law of 8 December 1979, establishing the Revolutionary Military Court, did not provide for any appeals. The Law of 15 May 1985 created a system of appeals through the creation of a two-tier system of courts. The decisions of Military Court II were subject to review by Military Court I. This law also provided that multiple Branches of the Supreme Court be designated as the appellate court to review decisions of Military Court I.

 

The judges

 

1979-1997: Prosecutors and judges are not necessarily law graduates and jurists. Shortly after the Islamic Revolution, a five-member Committee was established to purge the judicial system of undesirable elements, pursuant to the Legal Bill for the Modification of the Judiciary and the Law for Hiring Judges of 8 March 1979. The power of the committee was absolute and its decisions, resulting in a widespread purge of the judiciary, final.

 

The Law for the Conditions of Selection of Judges of 4 May 1981 established the conditions of eligibility for judges. The latter were to be hired among men who were legitimate children and had practical commitment to Islam and allegiance to the Islamic Republic. The law, which led to the hiring of clerics and Islamic legal scholars, also allowed hiring practically anyone as a judge who could “obtain the Judicial High Council’s permission.” Moreover, Note 2 of the Amendments of 4 October 1982 to this law allowed widespread employment of seminary students “who ha[d] general knowledge equivalent to a high school diploma” as judges at prosecutor’s offices in general as well as Revolutionary Courts.  

 

By 1989, the judiciary counted about 2,000 new judges trained in theological seminaries (graduates and students) and political appointees, many having replaced judges trained in law schools.

 

1997-Present: As of this writing (2013) the Law for Hiring Judges and its amendments of 4 October 1982, 7 February 1987, and 9 May 1988 are in full force and form the basis for hiring judges. The Executive Rules of Procedure of 22 December 1997 subjected such hiring to passing an entrance examination and successful completion of an apprenticeship program, the duration of which ranges between one and two years. The law does not limit hiring to men only but does not specify in what capacity women will be functioning, other than an advisory one.

Currently, judges are selected in accordance with the Guidelines on the Recruitment, Selection, and Internship for Judicial Candidates and the Hiring of Judges.

 

Dismissal of Judges: From 1979 to 1989, the judiciary was run by the Supreme Judicial Council which was composed of the head of the Supreme Court, the Prosecutor General (both of whom were appointed by the Supreme Leader), and three judges elected by the entire body of judges in the country. The Council had the power to hire and dismiss judges in accordance with the law.

 

The constitutional reforms of 1989 substituted the Supreme Judicial Council with one person, the Head of the Judiciary. The Supreme Leader, whose mandate is not subject to popular vote, appoints the Head of the Judiciary for a 5-year term. The latter has significant power to influence the dismissal of judges. Dismissal cases are referred to three types of disciplinary courts, presided over by judges appointed by the Head of the Judiciary, who has veto power over any decisions made by the relevant courts.

 

Two of these courts, established in 1991 and 2011, are charged with examining the judges’ conduct from a religious and ideological standpoint. The process does not necessarily involve the defendant and the final decision, left to the Head of the Judiciary, is not subject to appeal.

 

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 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 to freedom of peaceful assembly.

UDHR, Article 20; ICCPR, Article 21.

  • The right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of one’s interests.

UDHR, Article 20; ICCPR, Article 22.1.

  • 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

Mr. Fardin Hosseini was a follower of the Ahl-e Haq creed, the Nurali School, had a high school diploma, and was in business for himself. He did not have a criminal record, and always tried to be a law abiding citizen

News of Mr. Fardin Hosseini’s execution was published by Fars New Agency (January 24, 2016) and Mashreq Website (January 24, 2016). Additional information about this case was obtained through Boroumand Foundation research and interviews, materials published by the Human Rights Activists for Democracy in Iran website (September 14, 2014, June 6, August 3 and 7, 2015), Ahl-e Haq website (February 10, 2008), and Jam-e Jam Newspaper website (June 20 and 21, 2007)

Mr. Fardin Hosseini, child of Sahebeddin, was from [the town of] Sahneh in Kermanshah Province, resided in [the town of] Hashtgerd in Alborz Province, was married, and had a 14-year-old daughter. He had stated that he was a follower of the Ahl-e Haq creed, the Nurali Elahi School – a branch of Shi’a Islam – had a high school diploma, and was in business for himself. He had no criminal record. He tried to live life as a law abiding citizen, [to have respect for] his own rights and to respect the rights of others, and behave in conformity with legal and social [norms and] exigencies. (Mr. Hosseini’s handwritten notes and Boroumand Foundation research).

Ahl-e Haq or Yarsan is a creed with mystical rites that, based on the book “Nameh Saranjam” (“The Discourse of Conclusion”), originated in “Ahd-e Alast” (“Time without Beginning”). In the 9thcentury AD, the secrets of this religion reached “Bohlul Mahi” who was born in a Kurdish family, and had studied with Jafar Sadeq, the sixth Shi’a Imam, in his youth. His resting place on top of “Tangeh Gul” mountain in Iran’s [town of] Eslamabad-e Gharb is a shrine where his followers visit as pilgrimage. In the following centuries, “Baba Sarhang,” “Shah Khoshin,” and “Baba Na’us” continued his way in Iran’s western regions. Yarsan had disappeared from the 12thcentury A.D. until the 14thcentury A.D., when Soltan Sahak revived the creed in Sahneh, Kermanshah, and started to promote it in the regions of Uraman, Javanrud, Goran, and the Dalaho mountains. Sultan Sahak is considered the legislator of Ahl-e Haq.

The Ahl-e Haq creed is based on deep spiritual and religious emotions, and Ali bin Abi-Taleb, the first Shi’a Imam, occupies a special place in it. Ahl-e Haq is not solely an Islamic school of thought: It contains a collection of Zoroastrian, Manichaeist, Christian, and Jewish beliefs. Ahl-e Haq believe in reincarnation [or “transmigration of the soul”] (in the form of re-birth or continuation of the spirit after death in another body) and Ittihad (the manifestation of the Divine Essence in a human body or in a place), and do not believe in Ma’ad (Heaven and Hell). Paki (“Purity” [internally as well as externally]), Rasti (“Truth” [abstinence from falsehood and sin]), Nisti (“Inexistence” [suppressing and destroying all desires to reach a level of Godliness]), and Reda (“Magnanimity” [self-sacrifice and being of service to others]) are the four pillars of Ahl-e Haq.

Based on available information, Ahl-e Haq has 11 families, one of which is “Ahl-e Haq Shah Hayasi”. Nurali Elahi was the leader of the latter family, known as “Daravish,” from 1959 to 1974. He founded a school of thought that later came to be known as the Nurali Elahi School. His continuing lectures at Ahl-e Haq gatherings over the course of 10 years, from 1964 to 1974, were later published in the form of a book entitled “Borhan al-Haq” (“Demonstration of the Truth”). Nurali Elahi passed away in 1974 and his mummified body was buried in Hashtgerd. His tomb was destroyed 10 years later by the order of Hashtgerd’s then-Friday Prayer Imam. The Islamic Republic considers the Nurali Elahi School “misleading” and “perversive”; it is also considered to be a breakaway school among the Ahl-e Haq as well. Sahneh in Kermanshah Province, Hamedan, Hashtgerd in Alborz Province, Kelardasht in Mazandaran Province, and Garmsar in Semnan Province, are among regions where Nurali Elahi’s followers reside. According to the book “Borhan al-Haq”, Ahl-e Haq are Moslem, adhere to the tenets of the Koran, and perform all their religious duties in accordance with the dictates of God’s Holy Scripture. (Boroumand Foundation research).

Mr. Hosseini’s case is related to the assassination of Hashtgerd’s Friday Prayer Imam in Alborz Province, and to an individual’s murder in Kermanshah Province. Hashtgerd’s Friday Prayer Imam was killed in 2007-08 by unidentified persons. According to Mr. Hosseini, security forces had arrested a number of Nurali Elahi’s followers and the members of the Hekmat Council in connection with the murder of Hashtgerd’s Friday Prayer Imam.

Arrest and detention

Based on available information, one day in September-October 2009, at 5 PM, Mr. Hosseini was beaten and arrested following an attack by Information Ministry forces on Mr. Hosseini and his fellow villager, on Hashtgerd’s main street. Blindfolded, he was taken to the Information Ward’s solitary confinement cell at [the city of] Karaj’s Rajaishahr Prison, known as the Revolutionary Guards’ Ward. The Information Ministry’s team of interrogators began interrogations two days after Mr. Hosseini’s arrest, and continued for five years. He spent approximately three years of that period in solitary confinement cells in various prisons and detention centers. (Mr. Hosseini’s handwritten notes and Boroumand Foundation research).

During five months of interrogations, he suffered from serious head injuries, multiple instances of loss of consciousness, and bleeding from the nose and ears. The guard accompanying him told the neurologist that Mr. Hosseini had had [health] issues outside prison. 

According to Mr. Hosseini, the interrogations were round the clock, 24 hours a day, for five months, from the time of his arrest until March 2, 2010. According to him, he suffered serious head injuries from blows to his head during interrogations. Thereafter, he suffered from severe headaches and would have daily instances of passing out and/or bleeding from his nose and ears. One month later, prison authorities took him to a neurologist in Rajaishahr. Mr. Hosseini wrote in his notes: “The agent accompanying me told the doctor that that severe problem had occurred when I was on the outside. I protested that false claim, and [as a result], I was taken back to the Information Ward and offended and insulted because I had told the Doctor the truth. (Mr. Hosseini’s handwritten notes and Boroumand Foundation research).

At the end of the 5-month interrogation period, Mr. Hosseini was blindfolded and put in a van, and taken on a non-stop trip to Kermanshah Information Administration detention center, approximately 600 kilometers from Rajaishahr Prison. While being transported, he learned that several members of his family had been arrested and were accompanying him.  According to Mr. Hosseini, Kermanshah Information Administration detention center had “very small and dirty solitary cells” that “had no facilities inside the cell itself” and “the doors were opened only three times a day to go to the bathroom”. (Mr. Hosseini’s handwritten notes and Boroumand Foundation research).

He was able to visit with his family after five years. 

According to Mr. Hosseini’s handwritten notes in jail, he spent “more than three months in Kermanshah solitary in the worst possible physical shape, constantly and profusely insulted, and undergoing physical torture”. He was questioned at the town of Sahneh Judiciary Complex on May 12, 2010, and subsequently transferred to Kermanshah’s Dieselabad Central Prison. While being transported, he realized that there were other people, including members of his family, such as his brother-in-law, and several of his fellow adherents [of the Nurali Elahi School] were being transported with him. Mr. Hosseini spent approximately 6 months in 2010 at Kermanshah’s Dieselabad Prison’s general ward and was then taken to Alborz Province, spending around three months at Rajaishahr Prison and Karaj’s Central Prison, and was subsequently taken back to Kermanshah’s Dieselabad Central Prison. On November 27, 2012, he was taken to Kermanshah Information Administration detention center (known as “Maydan Naft Kermanshah” (“Karmanshah Petroleum Square”)) once again, and spent three months in solitary, being interrogated and tortured. He was subsequently taken to an unknown prison in the vicinity of [the town of] Sar-e Pol-e Zahab. (Mr. Hosseini’s handwritten notes and Boroumand Foundation research).

Describing his condition in that period, Mr. Hosseini stated: “After two or three days, the Information Ministry agents came to me again and started to explain the charges to me. They asked numerous questions about the murder of Hashtgerd’s Friday Prayer Imam, all of which I answered. I said I didn’t know anything about such an outrageous allegation and completely false claim. I had been in solitary for three months… I don’t know what day it was because there was no light in the cell except for a very small and dim light bulb [taken] from inside a Paykan [automobile] engine, and I could not tell day from night, unless I could tell from the time they brought me food. I didn’t even know the faces of the [prison guards] because I was always blindfolded. The cells were very dirty, as I explained before, very awful and very inappropriate. We were allowed a five-minute weekly shower, and could go to the bathroom three times a day, morning, noon, and night… After several days, they suddenly put me in a car, blindfolded… I had no doubt I was right, we were going toward Sar-e Pol-e Zahab and Qasr-e Shirin. The three Information Ministry agents were sitting in the Samand [automobile] and were not saying a word. After I saw the entrance sign post to Sar-e Pol-e Zahab, they suddenly pushed my head down and put a blindfold on me… I got off. My blood pressure had dropped so much that I could hardly take a step. They forced me into a solitary cell, much smaller than the cell in Kermanshah, enough for me to stand up and lie down; that’s it… I don’t know how long I was there. There was no bathroom and no shower. After a while, all of a sudden they came back and moved me to Kermanshah in that awful physical state, and I don’t know where after that…” (Mr. Hosseini’s handwritten notes and Boroumand Foundation research).

“Around one hundred and fifty people were being kept in three rooms. There was a very dirty hallway full of cockroaches. They left me there to my own devices.” 

Beginning around January 2013, Mr. Hosseini spent 2 months in a solitary confinement cell, the location of which he did not know. It was later said that the location was Qom’s 101 Prison. He was subsequently blindfolded and taken back to the Information Ministry Ward’s solitary cell at Karaj’s Rajaishahr Prison. According to Mr. Hosseini’s notes, on July 10, 2013, the first day of Ramadan, he was transferred to the Criminal Investigations Bureau detention center located in Karaj’s Azimieh District while he had been fasting for six months as a sign of protest. Two days later, he was returned to the Information Ministry’s Security Ward at Karaj’s Rajaishahr Prison, taken to Azimieh Criminal Investigations Bureau detention center again on the nineteenth day of Ramadan (July 28, 2013), and then back to the Information Ministry’s Security Ward at Karaj’s Rajaishahr Prison once again. Describing his condition at Azimieh Criminal Investigations Bureau detention center, Mr. Hosseinin stated: “I noticed that they kept other people at Azimieh Criminal Investigations Bureau detention center. Approximately one hundred and fifty people were held in three rooms. There was an extremely dirty hallway full of cockroaches. They left me there to my own devices. I spent a very difficult and awful time. I was fasting and in such pain that I could not even drink water. I was in such excruciating pain that I felt that death was near. The torture continued in that vein until the third day of Ramadan. They took me back to the Information Ministry’s Security Ward again. I was on a protest fast and severely objected but they all seemed like robots: they had no reactions. The threats continued constantly. I suddenly went on a complete fast in order to show my objection to the torture. My fast went on for six full days and I truly experienced death…” On May 25, 2013, Prison officials transferred Mr. Hosseini to Karaj’s Central Prison. According to Mr. Hosseini, it was there that he learned that his brothers and his cousin had been in solitary confinement and undergoing the same type of torture for over a year. After five years of detention, Mr. Hosseini was able to visit with his family at Karaj’s Central Prison for the first time. His family had no news of his whereabouts until then and had thought that he had been killed by the Information Ministry. Mr. Hosseini stated: “I was in extremely bad mental and psychological conditions when I was taken to Hall Seven of the prison’s general ward because I had not been in contact with or visited anyone all those years, except God.” (Mr. Hosseini’s handwritten notes and Boroumand Foundation research).

Trial

Based on available documentation, Mr. Hosseini’s charges were adjudicated in two separate trials, one in Karaj, and the other in Sahneh, Kermanshah Province.

In 2011, Mr. Hosseini had two court sessions at Karaj Revolutionary Court Branch Four. According to Mr. Hosseini, he called the charges “unfounded” in court, and did not accept them. It is not clear whether Mr. Hosseini was represented by a lawyer in those trial sessions. (Mr. Hosseini’s handwritten notes and other documents existing in Boroumand Foundation’s research).

In the winter of 2012, the trial for Mr. Hosseini’s second case was convened at Kermanshah Province Criminal Court, Branch One in the presence of the Court’s five-judge panel, the attorneys for both sides, witnesses, and private plaintiffs. According to Mr. Hosseini, the victim’s family told him at the first trial session that “the Information Ministry has told us to bring a complaint against you and take action [on that basis]”. Based on available information, the victim’s spouse declared that, as a witness to the murder, she had not seen nor did she know Mr. Hosseini. According to Mr. Hossini’s statement, the other witness was his own brother-in-law who had been in jail himself and had made confessions during interrogations incriminating Mr. Hosseini, but stated in court, before the panel of judges, the attorneys, the Prosecutor’s representative, and the victim’s family, that Information Ministry agents had promised him large sums of money and [permanent] residence in a European country if he repeated in court what he had stated at the Information Ministry, thus deceiving him. This witness stated in court that his confessions were the result of inculcation under the pressures and duress of interrogation, and declared them void. (Mr. Hosseini’s handwritten notes and other documents existing in Boroumand Foundation’s research).

No further information is available on trial sessions.

Charges

Based on available documentation, Mr. Hosseini was charged in the first case with “unauthorized purchase, sale, possession, and transportation of weapons and ammunitions of war” and “being the principle in the intentional murder” of Hashtgerd’s Friday Prayer Imam. In the second case, Mr. Hosseini was charged with the “murder’ of another citizen in Kermanshah Province in February-March 2010. (Boroumand Foundation research).

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

Based on available reports, the destruction of Mr. Nurali Elahi’s tomb and his child’s statement to the effect that “I will never forget this incident and I will never forgive those who did this” was considered the motive for the murder of Hashtgerd’s then-Friday Prayer Imam. (Mashreq website, January 24, 2016). It is not clear how the authorities connected that statement to Mr. Hosseini and charged him on that basis.

Based on available information, in 1984, Hashtgerd’s then-Friday Prayer Imam ordered the destruction of Mr. Nurali Elahi’s tomb, located at Hashtgerd’s Kuy-e Nur [neighborhood]. The Friday Prayer Imam was stabbed with a knife in front of his home by an unknown assailant 13 years later, and subsequently died of his injuries. Information Ministry forces considered these two events to be related. (Mr. Hosseini’s handwritten notes and Boroumand Foundation research).

A hunting rifle with specifications similar to the weapon with which the murder victim in the second case was shot was introduced as evidence against Mr. Fardin Hosseini. Furthermore, the statements of [certain] individuals, which had been obtained in the course of the investigations, were introduced in court as witness statements. (Documents existing at the Boroumand Foundation).

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. In the case of political detainees, these confessions are, at times, televised. The National Television broadcasts confessions during which prisoners plead guilty to vague and false charges, repent and renounce their political beliefs, and/or implicate others. Human rights organizations have also pointed to the pattern of retracted confessions by those prisoners who are freed.

Defense

Based on available information, Mr. Hosseini denied the charges in both cases. He considered these charges to be “an extensive trap by the Information Ministry” to get him for following the Nurali Elahi School. According to Mr. Hosseini’s statements, he was under severe torture for five months to accept the charge of murdering Hashtgerd’s Friday Prayer Imam, and when he did not, he was faced with a new case for the murder of another individual, [a case that had] a private plaintiff.

“They proposed a very hefty sum in cash for me and my son, to be paid anywhere in the world that I wanted, provided that I accept all of their lies and false claims in court.”

According to Mr. Hosseini, “the interrogations were intensive, recurrent, and round the clock, 24/7, accompanied by physical torture”. Among the torture he endured were insults to his beliefs, threats to arrest his family members and their subsequent arrest, hanging [by the arms] with hands tied behind his back, beatings with [electric] cable, tying of the testicles with threads, shoving a handkerchief laced with a foul-smelling filtration liquid in the mouth, and threats of sexual assault and rape. (Mr. Hosseini’s handwritten letter asking for justice available in the Boroumand foundation research).

Denying the charge of an individual’s murder in Kermanshah and saying that he did not know that person at all, Mr. Hosseini stated: “Once the interrogations started at Kermanshah’s Information Ministry, I realized that I was in their clutches and that they had plotted to [blame] me for the murder in Kermanshah… The Kermanshah murder victim was a Kermanshah Ahl-e Haq follower who, according to the Information Ministry investigation team, belonged to a branch opposed to ours. I repeatedly told them that our issues were not so [major] as to resort to inhuman acts; also, I really didn’t even know whether the persons who had been murdered existed or not, until I was transferred by the Information Ministry. I tried hard to convince the interrogators and prove my innocence but I realized, unfortunately, that just having Ahl-e Haq beliefs was a crime [in and of itself], and that all the charges had been brought in a coordinated and pre-planned fashion for me and my fellow adherents in order to make us out to seem like a terrorist organization.”

Noting “the enticing and considerable monetary offer” by the Kermanshah Information Administration interrogators in return for accepting the charges, Mr. Hosseini said: “All of a sudden, they changed tactics [and adopted] a very calm tone. I realized they intended to use a new tactic. They offered a huge sum of cash for me and my child anywhere in the world, in order for me to accept their false and baseless claims and do so in court. I must refrain from divulging the entire story and the truth at this time [to safeguard my life] and my family’s lives and security.” In describing the torture and his condition in solitary, Mr. Hosseini stated: “There was no light in the cell except for a very small and dim light bulb [taken] from inside a Paykan [automobile] engine, and I could not tell day from night, unless I could tell from the time they brought me food. I didn’t even know the faces of the [prison guards] because I was always blindfolded. The cells were very dirty... We were allowed a five-minute weekly shower, and could go to the bathroom three times a day, morning, noon, and night. They once took me to interrogation and tied my hands with a plastic band very tight to a chair. I didn’t know how long it had been since I had shaved but my beard was very long. The interrogation team attacked me and severely beat me. Then they fell on my weak and almost lifeless body and beat me to the point of death. Then they plucked about eighty percent of my beard and mustache out with tweezers. I was in a lot of pain and in critical condition. Then they blocked my mouth and my nose with a wet cloth until I passed out. I thought I had died but I regained consciousness and realized I was still alive. I experienced that type near death suffocation and loss of consciousness with a wet cloth eight times, and when I regained consciousness I noticed I was in the cell. I couldn’t sleep a wink for several days because of the pain. So, I started a hunger strike, that is, forced fasting, to protest being illegally held in solitary confinement, being insulted, and being tortured… I was in awful and critical shape and there was no doctor around.” He further stated: “The Assistant Prosecutor named Abbassi, once questioned me and explained the charges against me when I was at Kermanshah’s scary Security Ward. He brought false and unfounded charges, and I explained the falsity of the charges and the lies but he paid absolutely no attention to what I said. The interesting thing was that… the same interrogator who tortured me, threatened to repeat the same types of torture, right there in front of the Assistant Prosecutor. They took me back to the solitary cell, fasting. Approximately three months had passed since I had started fasting when the interrogations started again with a new team of interrogators. The marks of physical and psychological torture were still there when it all started again: Successive and continuous interrogations, personal insults, insults to my beliefs, and threats to arrest all my family members. After successive and continuous interrogations, one day they showed me pictures of my family members, including my father, sister, and brothers, one by one, all of whom were in very bad condition. I realized that they were all being held at the Information Ministry’s Security Ward at Rajaishahr Prison. They said: ‘You must admit the charges brought against you and confirm them before the judge; otherwise your family will remain in detention’.” According to Mr. Hosseini, he was taken to Karaj Province’s Central Criminal Investigations Bureau located in the Azimieh district in June-July 2013, handcuffed, shackled, and blindfolded. Mr. Hosseini stated: “After answering several questions about the same charges [brought] at the Information Ministry, they took me to [a place] behind the criminal [affairs] colonel named Rahmani’s office. It was an approximately 15-square-meter room, with some carpeting, and different color ropes hanging [from the ceiling]. There was an empty chair, a desk, a cooling device, and a number of ewers. The putrid smell was indicative of the place being a torture chamber. I had no force left in me because I had been fasting for long periods, and suddenly they tied my hands from behind with a black and white keffieh and a rope over it. They put me on the chair. They suddenly moved the chair away and I was suspended in mid-air. It was extremely frightening. I could not even scream. I felt so awful that I lost consciousness. When I came to, I was beaten and tortured with water and electric shock, and insulted at the same time. Their objective was to get me to confess even if it was a lie. I was in extremely awful physical shape but they didn’t care and kept torturing me, and I was left hanging in that state. I passed out several times. The last time I came to, all I could tell was that they were kicking me and giving me electric shocks, and kept repeating “Master Elahi taught you not to talk.” I was so weak I could not even respond. Then they started dragging me on the floor as if I were a corpse and put me in an elevator… I really [felt like I had] experienced death… I could not move either one of my arms. Both my shoulders had been dislocated. I was waiting for death to take me at any moment. I had trouble eating for two months. Only once did a doctor come to my cell and wrote “if I were to be hanged from my arms just one more time, both my arms would have to be amputated.” He prescribed some ibuprofen pills and left. All I did during that period was to slowly massage my arms with my feet so I could eat and wash myself. This situation went on; nothing was important to me anymore. They constantly talked about arresting my family. They kept showing me their pictures one by one. Their threats never ended, and they would take me to the investigative judge outside business hours, sometimes at 2 and sometimes at 5 PM. The investigating judge was like a scarecrow; his name was Abbas Karami, Karaj Revolutionary Court Branch Five… I was in awful mental and psychological shape.” Regarding the confession of one of the witnesses during interrogations, he said: “One of my fellow followers who was more than 50 years old…and they had brought into the Kermanshah case, had been acquitted. I realized that when they took us to the Karaj Revolutionary Court Branch Five investigative judge, [a man] by the name of Abbas Karami. He had been severely beaten, he could hardly walk. They had forced him to make false statements against me, and since he incriminated himself[?] before the investigative judge, after we were brought face to face, you could tell from his [facial expression] that he was talking under a lot of pressure and duress… Everything was clear from the look in his eyes.” Concerning his condition in 6 years of detention, Mr. Hosseini said: “No judicial authority or official was accountable, nor would they provide me with any answers, and that is still the case. Every time I go to court, all that happens is that a confidential and secret letter gets attached to the case and is submitted to the investigative judge. They keep renewing the detention order every two months. I really don’t know who to go to and where and with whom to take refuge. All I have been able to do, with great effort, is write about a minute amount of the suffering that they have unduly perpetrated on me and my family solely because we are Ahl-e Haq adherents and followers of Ostad (“Master”) Nurali Elahi, to prepare myself physically and mentally, after all this pain, suffering, and torture, and rebuild myself, in order to at least let those who have a conscience and are human beings with awareness, what has happened to me. I have repeatedly asked for justice with the officials connected to my case, but alas, I have not received a single response from any of them.” (Mr. Hosseini’s handwritten letter asking for justice available in the Boroumand foundation research).

Based on available information, on appeal, Mr. Fardin Hosseini’s attorney denied the charges against his client, relying on legal evidence. Noting that there was absolutely no evidence tying Mr. Hosseini to the charges brought against him, [the attorney] emphasized that the testimony of Mr. Vahab Amiri, Mr. Hosseini’s brother-in-law, against the latter, was obtained under unbearable duress and torture and was denied before the judge. Mr. Hosseini’s attorney further emphasized: “My client expressly stated at Kermanshah Province Criminal Court that [his brother-in-law’s] confessions contained in the case file were obtained in special circumstances, when he had been tortured, and that he had objected to said confessions that had been obtained under duress, torture, and threat of anal insertion of a bottle.” (Documents existing at the Boroumand Foundation).

An eyewitness who was in the same ward with Mr. Hosseini, confirmed his mental and psychological problems and said: “He underwent savage torture for a long time at Information Administration detention centers in Kermanshah, Karaj, and Hashtger, and spent successive months in solitary confinement cells, and was severely beaten… He had unknown fears emanating from his psychological condition. I heard him say that he had been under psychological care multiple times. He was not willing to give further detail in this regard or provide others with documents from his medical file. He was suspicious of pretty much everyone, and he trusted no one. One could more or less get a sense for his unstable mental condition from the very first meeting… He was not normal because of the torture he had endured. Given that he had psychological problems before his arrest, these conditions undoubtedly exacerbated his more or less unstable mental condition. Every time we asked him about how they treated him during interrogations, there was a huge fear deep in his eyes, which would make it difficult for anyone to continue a conversation with him. Also, I never heard of any serious attempt in prison at treating his [illnesses].” (Boroumand Foundation interview with a person with knowledge of the case).

There are no details of Mr. Hosseini’s defense at trial.

Judgment

Mr. Fardin Hosseini was sentenced to death (Qesas of life through hanging) in the second case (murder of an individual in Kermanshah) brought against him. The sentence was served on Mr. Hosseini’s attorney on March 6, 2012. The sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court Branch 16. Furthermore, in the first case [that had been opened against him], he was sentenced to eight years in prison on the charge of “purchase, sale, and possession of weapons and ammunitions of war” for which he was pardoned after three years, but was not released because of the second charge against him. In the meantime, the second murder case was opened. His other charge (murder of Hashtgerd’s Friday Prayer Imam) in the case remained open at the Karaj General and Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office Branch Five. (Documents existing at the Boroumand Foundation).

According to reports published in media inside Iran, Mr. Fardin Hosseini was executed on January 21, 2016 in Kermanshah. (Fars New Agency and Mashreq News, January 24, 2016). Mr. Hosseini’s family has doubts about the way he died and is not sure whether he was executed or killed under torture. (Boroumand Foundation research and interviews).

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