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

Akbar Mohammadi


Age: 37
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Single


Date of Execution: July 30, 2006
Location: Evin Prison, Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Death in custody
Charges: Acting against national security by creating unauthorized student or promoting civic associations on University campuses; July 9, 1999
Age at time of offense: 30

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 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.

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.

About this Case

was arrested and returned to jail, despite being released on an indefinite leave permission. To protest his arrest, he went on hunger strike. Nine days later, he died in Evin Prison.

Information regarding Mr. Akbar Mohammadi’s death in detention was announced by the websites of ISNA- Iranian Student’s News Agency (July 31, August 10, and September 17, 2006), IRNA- Islamic Republic News Agency (August 1, 2006), ILNA- Iranian Labour News Agency (July 31, 2006), Peyk-e Iran (August 8, September 8, 10, 11, and 14, 2006), Advar News (September 5, 2006), Jaam-e Jam (August 3, 2006), Aftab News Agency (July 31, 2006), Iran Press News (July 31 and August 3, 2006), Entekhab News Agency (August 12, 2006), Student Committee of Human Rights Reporters (July 31, 2006), and Kourosh News Agency (June 3, 2005). Additional information in this regard was obtained through Boroumand Center research and interviews with Mr. Omid Abasgholinezhad (September 16, 2017), Amnesty International Report (July 7, 2004), and “Thought and Whip”: Prison Memoirs of Akbar Mohammadi (Shahr-e-Ketab Publisher, LA, 2006).

Mr. Akbar Mohammadi was born in Amol, Mazandaran province in 1969. He was a social work student at the College of Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences of Tehran University and a member of the National Association of Students and Graduates. According to one of Mohammadi's cellmates in Evin Prison, he was very friendly, kind, and calm, and at the same time strong, patriotic, and sympathetic to the newly arrived prisoners (Boroumand Center interviews with Mr. Omid Abasgholinezhad, September 16, 2017).

The National Association of Students and Graduates (Anjoman-e Daneshjuyan va Daneshamukhtegan Melli), founded in 1997, was an independent secular nationalist student association. The group joined the United Students Front, a coalition of students and graduate groups formed in 1997, during the relatively open period that followed the presidential election. The group promoted democracy and cleared a way for independent student associations. The National Association of Students and Graduates was active in organizing meetings and protests to give visibility to students’ grievances and demands. During the July 1999 protests (the protests that were started peacefully in the University of Tehran's dormitories due to forced closure of the Salam newspaper and the adoption of the new press law, but were raided by riot police and Ansar-e Hezbollah (plain-clothes officers) the same night, and became the biggest challenge to the student movement in Iran after the 1979 revolution*) the leaders of the association were arrested and sentenced to death. Their sentences were later commuted. The organization was de facto dissolved inside Iran with the death of one of the founders in prison and the escape into exile of the other founder. The Islamic Revolutionary Court ultimately banned the United Students Front in 2004.

"He was very friendly, kind, and calm, and at the same time strong, patriotic, and sympathetic to the newly arrived prisoners", said one of Mr. Mohammadi's cellmates in Evin Prison.

The July 9, 1999 Incident

In the early morning hours of July 9, the day after students’ demonstrations to denounce the closing of the daily newspaper Salam, members of the Riot Guards, along with members of government supported militia in civilian clothes, known as Hezbollah’s Aides, raided the dormitories of the University of Tehran and began battering and seriously injuring many students, some of whom had been barely awake. The invaders then proceeded to savagely ransack the rooms and destroy or pilfer the students’ belongings.

The raid was apparently a reaction to the gathering of students to protest the closing of the reformist daily journal, Salam. The protests had flared up following the publication of a letter by Said Emami (one of the undersecretaries of the Ministry of Information who had been accused of complicity in the serial murders of opponents and critics of the regime). The letter disclosed a government plan to tighten control over newspapers. An announcement posted on campus bulletin boards, called on students to congregate in protest to the restrictions imposed on, and the closing of, dissident journals. Answering the call, several hundred students gathered in front of the campus gate and began to shout slogans in praise of freedom and condemnation of tyranny. The students continued their march from the campus area to an adjacent street and finally returned to their dormitories. Some of the students, however, noticing the presence of security forces and plain-clothes militia, remained in the street. Following a brief skirmish with the militia, they returned to their dormitories at the request of the president of the university.

Later on, following the raid of the dormitories by the riot police and plain-clothes militia, a number of students and the university president were arrested and taken away. Denouncing the violent and destructive police raid on their dormitories, a few thousand shocked and angry students continued their demonstrations for another day. According to a BBC report, nearly 20,000 students had participated in one of the street demonstrations. Protestors at Tabriz University were also brutally attacked.

Furthermore, according to the report of the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations for the year 2000, nearly 1,500 individuals were arrested over the course of these demonstrations in Tehran, and, on the basis of the available evidence, at least eight persons were killed in the demonstrations and the campus raid. The authorities, however, confirmed the death of only one of the demonstrators by gunfire.

The Trial of the Accused in the Campus Raid

On March 4th 1999, pursuant to the complaint lodged by the injured students, the trial of the security forces personnel who had been accused and indicted for the injuries suffered by a number of students in the campus “incident” began. The trial was conducted in the 7th branch of the military court of the armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The court dismissed the cases against Farhad Nazari, the commander of the uniformed soldiers and 17 plain-clothes security agents who had participated in the raid. Only a single conscript was convicted for the crime of stealing the electric shavers of some of the students. The court also ordered cash payment as compensation to the 34 students who had been severely beaten and some of whom had suffered broken hands, legs, jaws and other injuries during the raid. The compensation was to be determined according to the Islamic penal code for retribution. One of the students was paid half of the legal compensation for the loss of his right eye.

Arrest and detention

Mr. Akbar Mohammadi, along with a large number of students, was arrested and detained on July 9, 1999. Mr. Mohammadi was tortured and abused severely during his arrest, causing serious damage to his lumbar spine, spinal cord, gastrointestinal tract, and kidneys (Boroumand Center interviews with Mr. Omid Abasgholinezhad, September 16, 2017; Amnesty International Report, July 7, 2004; “Thought and Whip”: Prison Memoirs of Akbar Mohammadi, 2006; and Kourosh News Agency, June 3, 2005).

He was arrested and detained on July 9, 1999 along with a large number of students and was tortured and abused severely during his arrest.

Mr. Mohammadi described in his book the various types of physical and mental tortures sustained during his detention such as violent beatings during interrogations, whipping on the soles of his feet with electric cables, hanging from the ceiling, sleep deprivation, mock executions, and threats of execution (“Thought and Whip”: Prison Memoirs of Akbar Mohammadi, 2006).

According to the Amnesty International report released in 2004, Mr. Mohammadi was subjected to “mock executions”, violent beatings, hanging from the ceiling by handcuffs, and whipping on the soles of his feet with electric cables, which resulted in severe physical injuries, including 40% hearing loss in his left ear (Amnesty International Report, July 7, 2004).


Since a secret trial was conducted for Mr. Akbar Mohammadi, no information is available on details of the trial.


The charges against Mr. Akbar Mohammadi were acting against national security, insulting, disseminating lies, and communicating with foreign countries’ media (IRNA, August 1, 2006).

Evidence of guilt

There is no information regarding evidence presented against Mr. Mohammadi.


No information is available on Mr. Mohammadi’s defense.


Mr. Akbar Mohammadi was sentenced to death in September 1999. His sentence was subsequently commuted to 15 years’ imprisonment in 2001 (Amnesty International Report, July 7, 2004; and Peyk-e Iran, September 14, 2006).

The events causing Mr. Akbar Mohammadi’s death

Tortures and unsuitable conditions during detention caused Mr. Akbar Mohammadi severe spinal cord injury, lumbar degenerative disc disease, and acute gastrointestinal problems. According to forensic medicine and prison doctors’ reports, he was not physically suitable for incarceration. Five years after his arrest, in October 2004, he was released from jail under an indefinite medical leave permission for treatment (IRNA, August 1, 2006).

According to Mr. Mohammadi’s parents, after being released from prison, Mr. Akbar Mohammadi had four surgical operations and doctors suggested that he undergo two additional major surgical operations in another country. These never happened because of his financial hardship and the travel ban ordered by the court (Kourosh News Agency, June 3, 2005). Mr. Mohammadi’s parents also broke news of a failed assassination attempt on Mr. Mohammadi on May 31, 2005 in a letter addressed to the President. They believed the assassination attempt was related to Akbar’s efforts to publish Mr. Manuchehr Mohammadi's declaration from prison regarding the boycott of the presidential election (Same source).

In May 2006, Mr. Mohammadi was arrested in his hometown on the pretext of not returning to jail. The Deputy Prosecutor General of Tehran claimed that Mr. Mohammadi was arrested because he was absent at the time his leave period ended and had not returned to prison to complete his sentence. However, Mohammadi's family’s attorney rejected this claim and stated that Mr. Mohammadi's arrest was due to the publication of his book. The Deputy Attorney General of Tehran in prison affairs, explained: “Mr. Akbar Mohammadi was in prison based on a sentence of 15 years of imprisonment, and released from prison in November 2004 on a permission for leave. Although this permission was extended several times, he never showed up after February 2005, even after officials repeatedly notified his family that he should return to prison. After 600 days of absence, he was arrested on the prison judge’s order in June 2005 in his hometown, Amol, and transferred to Evin Prison” (IRNA, August 1, 2006). However, Mohammadi's family’s attorney denied the claims made by the Deputy Prosecutor, saying that Mr. Akbar Mohammadi was arrested and returned to jail despite being released on an indefinite leave permission. Mohammadi's family’s attorney added: “According to Article 27 of the prison regulations, the prison authorities are responsible for the protection of prisoners, and, in accordance with Article 108, the prison authorities must request pardon or conditional release for those prisoners who are released on a permission while suffering from a disease which is confirmed by prison doctors and the return of these prisoner back to prison is conditional on their health” (Entekhab News Agency, August 12, 2006). He described publication of Mr. Mohammadi’s book as a reason for his arrest (Iran Press News, July 31, 2006).

Mr. Akbar Mohammadi was sentenced to death in September 1999. His sentence was subsequently commuted to 15 years’ imprisonment in 2001.

After his arrest, Mr. Mohammadi wrote a letter to the head of Evin Prison protesting his arrest, demanding his release, and announcing that he would go on hunger strike if officials did not consider his demands. Prison authorities, however, threatened him with solitary confinement should he go on hunger strike. As a result, on Sunday, July 23, 2006, Mr. Mohammadi went on hunger strike (IRNA, August 1, 2006; ISNA, July 31, 2006; Iran Press News, July 31, 2006; and Peyk-e Iran, August 8, 2006).

Mr. Mohammadi's hunger strike coincided with the visit of some members of parliament to Evin Prison. Based on an order issued by the head of Evin Prison, Mr. Mohammadi was locked up with handcuffs and chains to his bed in the prison’s clinic in order to prevent members of parliament from hearing his protest. It was said that he had a mild heart attack the night before. After the visit, Mr. Mohammadi was transferred to his cell while he felt severe pain in his chest. According to other prisoners, signs of injuries on his body were clearly observable (Boroumand Center interviews with Mr. Omid Abasgholinezhad, September 16, 2017; Student Committee of Human Rights Reporters, July 31, 2006; Iran Press News, July 31, 2006).

After three days of hunger strike, Mr. Mohammadi's physical conditions deteriorated. On Thursday, Mr. Mohammadi was transferred to the prison’s clinic with the help of other prisoners. Mr. Bina Darabzand, a political activist who was in Evin Prison at the same time as Mr. Akbar Mohammadi, declared: “Akbar went on hunger strike on Sunday. His conditions deteriorated on Thursday and we took him to the prison’s clinic. When he returned, on Sunday, he told us that he had an infarction on Saturday night and doctors warned the head of the prison that he would die if the authorities did not respond to his demands. The head of the prison ordered that he be returned to the cell and left to die there” (Peyk-e Iran, August 8, 2006).

On the ninth day of the hunger strike, after Mr. Mohammadi had refused water for two days, he faced sudden cardiac arrest in the prison’s bath. The prison doctors' efforts to revive him failed. Mr. Akbar Mohammadi died on July 30, 2006 in Evin Prison (Iran Press News, July 31, 2006).

Mr. Akbar Mohammadi died at the age of 37. His body was buried in Chang-miyan village in the city of Amol.

Events after Mr. Akbar Mohammadi’s death

Mr. Akbar Mohammadi’s parents published a letter announcing that the signs of injury, bruising, and severe weight loss on Mr. Mohammadi’s body were quite visible. They also stated that security forces threatened to take Akbar's body to Tehran, bury it secretly, and leave his grave unmarked if the family held any funeral ceremony for Akbar (Iran Press News, July 31, 2006).

The head of Tehran Prosecutor's Office announced that he was present at the forensic medicine facility in person with the prosecutor and, along with forensic medicine experts, inspected the body of Mr. Mohammadi. He claimed that there were no signs of bruising on his body (Jaam-e Jam, August 3, 2006).

Mr. Mohammadi's attorney announced that he filed lawsuits against the Evin Prison authorities, prison clinic authorities, and also against the authorities of the Tohid Detention Center, where Mr. Mohammadi was detained and tortured in 1999.

The General Director of Tehran's Prisons stated that Mr. Mohammadi was under prison doctors’ treatment since he started the hunger strike on July 25, and according to the last medical report, his health condition was normal. After being transferred to his cell at his request, said the General Director of Tehran's Prisons, Mr. Mohammadi's physical condition got worse while he was showering, and he died in transfer to the prison’s medical center. It is worth noting that the General Director of Tehran's Prisons had previously denied Mr. Mohammadi's hunger strike (ISNA, July 31, 2006).

The spokesperson of the judiciary, and the deputy prosecutor of prison affairs in Tehran confirmed Mr. Mohammadi’s death in Evin Prison and stated that according to the prison doctors’ report, the cause of Mr. Mohammadi’s death was a heart attack (ISNA, July 31, 2006, and IRNA, August 1, 2006).

Mr. Mohammadi’s attorney, protested his client’s arrest despite his illnesses and unstable physical condition and declared that after he was informed about his client's hunger strike, he requested to visit Mr. Mohammadi in order to dissuade him from continuing the hunger strike. Unfortunately, prison officials prevented the visit contrary to international conventions and domestic laws (ILNA, July 31, 2006). In response to this claim, the spokesman of the Judiciary stated that he had not heard of the request, but had been informed that Mr. Mohammadi visited his brother during his hunger strike, and that he was under medical care of the prison doctors (Aftab News Agency, July 31, 2006).

Mr. Mohammadi's attorney was summoned to the second branch of the Public Prosecutors for State Employees after commenting on the questionable death of his client and charged with defamation of Evin prison and judicial authorities’ characters. “The statements made by the deputy prosecutor of prison affairs in Tehran and the director general of Tehran's prisons on the case of Akbar Mohammadi were contradictory, and I only recited them” he said (ISNA, September 17, 2006 and Peyk-e Iran, September 11, 2006).

Mr. Mohammadi's attorney also announced that he filed lawsuits against the Evin Prison authorities and prison clinic authorities based on their delinquency in causing Mr. Mohammadi’s death and also against the authorities of the Tohid Detention Center, where Mr. Mohammadi was detained and tortured in 1999. Heretofore, Mr. Mohammadi’s family’s attorney also filed a lawsuit against the Prisons Organization, the prison authorities, the prison's health center, and those who were responsible for Mr. Mohammadi’s arrest in spite of his physical condition (ISNA, August 10, 2006 and Peyk-e Iran, September 11, 2006).

The ceremonies that were held on the seventh and 40th days after Mr. Akbar Mohammadi’s death were controlled intensely by security officials and plainclothes agents. The security officials, with a significant presence on the roads toward Mr. Mohammadi’s grave in Chang-miyan village, stopped participants’ cars, investigated them, and seized their identification cards. Moreover, many people who were planning to attend the ceremonies were stopped by the intelligence officials and police forces and sent back to Tehran (Peyk-e Iran, September 8 and 10, 2006).

Mr. Akbar Mohammadi died at the age of 37. His body was buried in Chang-miyan village in the city of Amol.

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