Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Ali Asghar


Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Unknown


Date of Killing: 2017
Location of Killing: Ilam Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Murder

About this Case

The news of Mr. Ali Asghar’s (last name unknown) execution was published by Mizan Online News Agency website on January 9, 2017. Information about Mr. Ali Asghar’s arrest was obtained from Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) on July 25, 2012.

Mr. Ali Asghar’s case was related to the death of a resident of the city of Dehloran in Ilam province in 1999. In the middle of committing a robbery, a man with a covered face shot the home owner twice with a hunting gun and fled the scene after taking some jewelry.

Police questioned persons close to the victim and those who were out of favor with him, but no suspect was found at this stage. Since the victim was a wealthy businessman, police started investigating his business competitors. Among these people, the victim's spouse suspected a tall young man named Reza, claiming that his appearance was very similar to the assailant. This sole claim was sufficient to make Reza the main suspect of the case. Through several years of case investigation, Reza always claimed innocence, but since he did not have anyone to confirm his alibi, the prosecutor issued an indictment and the judges accordingly found the case to be “lowth” and ordered “qassameh”* to be carried out. Therefore, 51 relatives of the deceased’s next of kin swore that Reza had committed the murder. Despite Reza’s claim of innocence, his denial of the charges, and his objections to the procedure, Reza was sentenced to a retaliatory death sentence (“qesas-e nafs”) on the sole basis of “qassameh.” A short while later, one of those who had taken a “qassameh” oath against Reza was murdered suspiciously, and the investigation’s path changed. In the course of new investigations, the police turned up a new and surprising lead and identified Mr. Ali Asghar, who was involved with both murders.  

A few years after the aforementioned robbery and murder incident, Mr. Ali Asghar was arrested on charge of his father's murder and spent several years in jail until he was released with the consent of his family and left Dehloran permanently for a location unknown to others.

Arrest and detention

In 2012, police tracked down and arrested Mr. Ali Asghar in Tehran’s Hakimieh neighborhood. The circumstances of his arrest and detention are not known.


No information is available on Mr. Ali Asghar’s trial.


The charge brought against Mr. Ali Asghar is not known in detail. According to sources, he was charged with robbery and murder.

Evidence of guilt

In the report of his execution, Mr. Ali Asghar's confession and the reconstruction of the crime scene were mentioned as evidence against him.


No information is available on Mr. Ali Asghar’s defense.


According to existing information, the Criminal Court in Ilam province issued a death sentence for Mr. Ali Asghar. No further details are available on this order. Mr. Ali Asghar was executed subsequent to the Supreme Court upholding his death sentence.


* “Qassameh” means an oath taken by a group of people. It is one of the ways that a defendant’s guilt or innocence can be proven for both intentional and non-intentional offenses. Per Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, “qassameh” is carried out in instances where a crime has occurred and no convincing evidence or witnesses exist which could prove the defendant’s guilt, and where a judge has doubt about the defendant’s guilt based solely on circumstantial evidence – a circumstance referred to in religious jurisprudence as “lowth.” Where “lowth” obtains, the judge is bound to ask the defendant to produce evidence disproving the charge. If the defendant demonstrates his innocence in this way, he is acquitted. Failing this, the plaintiff may perform “qassameh” in order to prove the defendant’s guilt, or request that the defendant perform “qassameh” to disprove the charges. This procedure, which requires a defendant to prove his innocence, is contrary to the principle of presumption of innocence and violates the defendant’s right to remain silent. The principle of the presumption of innocence - recognized in Iran’s constitution, Code of Criminal Procedure, and international agreements to which Iran is signatory – holds that all persons are to be considered innocent until proven guilty. A defendant should not be made to prove his own innocence. Proving the charges made against the defendant by presenting adequate evidence and witnesses is the duty of the prosecuting authority (in the Iranian context, the public prosecutor or a private plaintiff.) The right to remain silent is among the defendant’s rights of defense, affording him the right to refrain from answering questions regarding the charges entered against him. Such silence may not be treated as an indication or evidence of guilt or innocence.
In order to substantiate a charge of homicide through “qassameh,” an oath is required from 50 male relatives of the plaintiff. For the charge to be dismissed, fifty male relatives of the defendant must swear to his innocence. Should the number of male relatives taking the oath be less than 50, the defendant may repeat the oath himself in order to meet the required number of swears. In homicide cases, it is not possible for a plaintiff to repeat the oath in this way.
It is not necessary for those taking the oath to have witnessed the commission of the crime themselves.
In Hanafi jurisprudence, “qassameh” can only be carried out to disprove charges against a defendant, and a plaintiff may not use it to substantiate a defendant’s guilt. In Shi’a jurisprudence, however, “qassameh” is carried out in the first stage by the plaintiff to prove the charges against the defendant. Only where the plaintiff foregoes “qassameh” and requests that the defendant perform it himself, can the defendant use “qassameh” to see his charges dismissed.

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