Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Qorban Ali Karimi


Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam
Civil Status: Married


Date of Killing: April 20, 1991
Location of Killing: Arak, Markazi Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Drug trafficking; Drug related offense

About this Case

News of the execution of Mr. Qorbanali Karimi, son of Hajibaba was published in Jomhuri Eslami newspaper on April 21, 1991. Additional information was obtained through the Boroumand Foundation’s research and interviews with people with knowledge of the case.

Mr. Karimi was 31, from and residing in [the city of] Arak, married, with several children. He was a tall and husky man, and was a well-known and reputable individual where he lived. Mr. Karimi’s profession was laying asphalt pavements.

Mr. Karimi’s case is related to crimes involving drugs. 

Arrest and detention

Mr. Karimi was arrested in 1988-89 in Arak at the home of one of his relatives. He had gone to one of his relatives’ home, not knowing that the police were waiting for him there. When he went inside, the owner of the house told the police: “This is the Qorbanali that you are looking for.”

According to an acquaintance, Mr. Karimi did not know why he had been arrested and thought that there had been a mistake. He therefore told his family that he would be released very soon because he was innocent. He was interrogated and tortured for nine months but did not give a confession. According to the testimony of a person close to Mr. Karimi, he was taken to the investigating judge’s office, who orally notified him of his release due to a lack of evidence. Mr. Karimi became angry and said in protest: “Why did you beat me so much when you knew I had nothing [and hadn’t done anything]?” and proceeded to hit the judge in the head with a desk. Reacting to his action, the judge said: “I will put the rope around your neck [and hang you] myself.” (Boroumand Foundation interview).

After a period of interrogations, Mr. Karimi was transferred to Arak Prison. Given his professional specialty, he paved the Arak Prison’s grounds with asphalt. 


Arak Islamic Revolutionary Court tried Mr. Karimi. No information is available about the details of the trial session(s).


Mr. Karimi was charged with “the purchase, sale, and distribution of one kilogram of heroin.”

The validity of the criminal charges brought against this defendant cannot be ascertained in the absence of the basic guarantees of a fair trial. International human rights organizations have drawn attention to reports indicating that the Islamic Republic authorities have brought trumped-up charges, including drug trafficking, sexual, and other criminal offences, against their opponents (including political, civil society activists, as well as unionists and ethnic and religious minorities). Thousands of alleged drug traffickers have been sentenced to death following judicial processes that fail to meet international standards. Scores of them were executed based on a 1989 law imposing mandatory death sentences on drug traffickers found in possession of specified amounts of proscribed narcotics (5 kg of hashish or opium, and more than 30 grams of heroin, codeine or methadone). The exact number of people convicted based on trumped-up charges is unknown. 

Evidence of guilt

The testimony of another prisoner who had been arrested 2 years prior to Mr. Karimi was used against him as evidence. That individual had been executed before Mr. Karimi’s arrest. (Boroumand Foundation interview). There is no information regarding other evidence submitted in court against Mr. Karimi.


Mr. Karimi never admitted the charge brought against him and there was no evidence against him. The person who had testified against him was a prisoner who had been executed prior to Mr. Karimi’s arrest, and there was therefore no possibility of him being present in court [to testify]. According to the testimony of a person close to Mr. Karimi, the order to release him had reached judicial authorities but they did not pay any attention to it. (Boroumand Foundation interview).


Mr. Karimi was sentenced to death and expropriation of property. The sentence was approved by the country’s Prosecutor General. Mr. Qorbanali Karimi was executed on April 20, 1991, in Arak Prison. His wife and his three young children were incarcerated at the time of his execution. According to the statements of an acquaintance, Mr. Karimi’s wife had been arrested and charged with “possession of drugs” in order to put pressure on Mr. Karimi to make a confession. (Boroumand Foundation interview).

Mr. Karimi’s assets consisted of a Paykan 48 [Iranian brand of car] which was expropriated. According to a person close to him, the order of his release arrived from Tehran two months after he was executed. (Boroumand Foundation interview).

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