Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Shuresh Mehdikhani


Age: 26
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam (Sunni)
Civil Status: Single


Date of Killing: July 30, 2009
Location of Killing: Central Prison, Sanandaj, Kordestan Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Membership of anti-regime guerilla group; Corruption on earth
Age at time of alleged offense: 24

About this Case

He had a high school diploma and was a mason’s helper.

News of Mr. Shuresh Mehdikhani’s execution was published by the Human Rights Activists in Iran’s (HRANA) website (August 12, 2009) and Kurdistan’s Azarmehr Women’s Association (July 31, 2009). Additional information about this case was obtained through Boroumand Center research and an interview with a person close to Mr. Mehdikhani and from Kurdistan Human Rights Organization’s official website, “Ensaniat” (February 16, 2009).

Mr. Shuresh Mehdikhani, child of Sa’eed, was 26 years old, single, a Sunni Kurd, and resided in the city of Sanandaj’s Namaki neighborhood. He had a high school diploma and worked with his father as a mason’s helper. According to a person close to him, Mr. Mehdikhani was a religious man and an adherent of the Shafe’i* branch of Islam, but did not belong to a particular group or organization. He was a quiet man and had a pleasant demeanor with his friends and family. Mr. Mehdikhani had ordinary and temperate religious views and did not argue about his beliefs with anyone; he simply invited people to read the Koran and study Sunni beliefs (Boroumand Center interview).

Arrest and detention

According to a person with knowledge of the case, on December 1, 2007, the police arrested Mr. Mehdikhani in Bimeh Iran Alley, next to Sanandaj’s Azadi Square Bank Sepah, after he was wounded by the explosion of a sound bomb he had been carrying on his motorcycle. He spent twelve days at Sanandaj’s Be’sat Hospital after his arrest. Mr. Mehdikhani, who had lost one of his kidneys as a result of the explosion and had not completely recovered and was still reeling from his wounds, was then transferred to Sanandaj Information Administration Detention Center where he spent nine months. He first got a chance to contact his family very briefly three months after his arrest. During his detention, Mr. Mehdikhani rarely contacted his family, and visited his family only a few times, each time for less than 30 minutes and in the presence of the Information Administration forces. According to a person with knowledge of the case, he had become extremely weak during detention (Boroumand Center interview).

He lost one of his kidneys because of the explosion

Mr. Mehdikhani was transferred to Tehran’s Evin Prison in August 2008. He was subsequently transferred to Sanandaj Central Prison in November 2008 and was then able to retain an attorney (Boroumand Center interview).

According to a person close to Mr. Mehdikhani, on the day of his arrest, Sanandaj Information Administration forces went to his home without prior notice and without showing a search warrant and confiscated his religious books and CDs after turning the house upside down. After searching the house, Information agents disrespected Mr. Mehdikhani’s family and beat his father, and then arrested his younger brother and sister without an arrest warrant and took them to Sanandaj Information Administration. Mr. Mehdikhani’s brother and sister were released without trial after two months and 15 days, respectively. Another brother of Mr. Mehdikhani’s was arrested a short time after his arrest and was detained for 45 days (Boroumand Center interview).


Sanandaj Islamic Revolutionary Court Branch Two tried Mr. Mehdikhani in mid-December 2008. The trial was convened in the presence of Mr. Mehdikhani’s attorney and lasted only 15 minutes (Boroumand Center interview and research). 

He was tried in 15 minutes


The Court charged Mr. Mehdikhani with “Moharebeh and Efsad fel-Arz” (Boroumand Center interview).

According to a person close to Mr. Mehdikhani, possession of explosive materials, studying religion, and inviting people to Sunni beliefs, were among the charges brought against Mr. Mehdikhani (Boroumand Center interview).

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 allude to reports according to which, in certain cases, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s officials bring false charges against their opponents (including political, civil, and union activists, as well as ethnic and religious minorities) such as drug trafficking or commission of public or sexual crimes, and execute them along with other regular criminals. Hundreds of people are sentenced to death in Iran every year; however, the number of those who are sentenced to death based on these false charges is not known.

Evidence of guilt

According to a person with knowledge of the case, Mr. Mehdikhani’s production of the sound bomb that went off while he was transporting it on his person, was among the evidence presented against him (Boroumand Center interview). There are no details of other evidence presented against him in court.


Based on available information, Mr. Mehdikhani’s attorneys pointed to the following in their brief to the appellate court: “He was subjected to and was influenced by misguided religious suggestions and insinuations due to his young age and there was no intent to frighten a majority of the population; he is therefore not Mohareb. There was no specific or general malicious intent to commit a crime; the psychological element of the crime is therefore absent. No financial, mental, or physical damage was caused to anyone whatsoever, and the hand grenades he used were solely sonic and had no destructive power. The defendant does not belong to any [political] groups and the adjudication of his case was done with some haste, and fairness and justice have therefore not been observed” (Boroumand Center interview).

"We will execute him, and let that be a lesson to his friends.”

According to a person with knowledge of the case, Mr. Mehdikhani had built the bomb to fight the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan (PEJAK) and did not intend to attack or use it to bomb government or military centers (Boroumand Center interview).

According to a person close to Mr. Mehdikhani, Information forces had told Mr. Mehdikhani “We will execute him, and let that be a lesson his friends” (Boroumand Center interview). There is no information regarding his defense in court.

A Summary of the Defects of Mr. Shuresh Mehdikhani’s Legal Proceedings

Considering available information submitted to the Boroumand Foundation (such as the Court Decision), Shuresh Mehdikhani was sentenced to death by the Sanandaj Revolutionary Court on the charge of Moharebeh (“waging war with Allah”) and Efsad fel-Arz (“spreading corruption on Earth”), and the decision was upheld by the Kurdistan Province Court of Appeals. According to the Court Decision, Shuresh Mehdikhani had built an sound bomb which went off while he was carrying it, causing him injuries. The evidence showed that even if he intended to set the bomb off at a specific location, he had not been successful in carrying out his objective. Pursuant to the rules regarding attempt to commit a crime that were in effect at the time of the adjudication of this case, initiating a crime is considered to be a crime only when the actions taken up that point are themselves criminal; further, this rule does not apply to crimes that carry Hadd punishments. Since specific conditions and punishments have been set for crimes that carry Hadd punishments, one cannot speak of starting to commit these sorts of crimes. In other words, if the law does not specify a rule with regards to initiating these kinds of crimes, cases in which a defendant has not successfully carried them out can no longer be adjudicated within the framework of crimes that carry Hadd punishments. Additionally, Islamic Penal Code Article 183, Note 1 provides: “One who draws a weapon on the public but does not create fear in anyone due to inability or incapacity, is not Mohareb.” This Note clearly indicates that if the objective of the crime of Moharebeh, i.e., creating fear in the public, is not achieved, the crime has not been committed. Whatever objective Shuresh Mehdikhani had in mind, it was not achieved, and no one was physically or financially injured as a result of the handmade bomb going off, and absolutely no fear was created in any member of the public. Sanandaj Revolutionary Court has, nevertheless, determined that the crime of Moharebeh has been committed, which seems to be contrary to legal standards. 

Pursuant to Article 233 of the Law on the General and Revolutionary Courts Rules of Criminal Procedure, the Supreme Court is the competent authority to hear appeals from capital punishment sentences. Prior to 2010-11, there was a conflict of opinion as to the proper authority to hear appeals from a ruling of Moharebeh issued by revolutionary courts: though some branches believed that such rulings must be appealed to the courts of appeals, the prevailing view was that the Supreme Court was the competent authority to hear appeals from such decisions. Subsequent to 2010-11, a Unified Procedure Decision was issued by the Supreme Court, effectively designating the Supreme Court as the competent authority to hear appeals from death sentences issued by revolutionary courts. Contrary to the prevailing procedure and the provisions of the aforementioned Article, however, Kordestan Province authorities did not send the case to the Supreme Court but to the Kordestan Province Court of Appeals. Furthermore, Revolutionary Court Branch Two’s decision was issued on December 20, 2008, and upheld on January 19, 2009; in other words, all the legal formalities related to appealing the court decision were completed in the span of just one month. This is contrary to legal custom and procedure. Given that more than 20 days of this period was spent on administrative formalities, it is clear that consideration of this voluminous and important case at the Court of Appeals was done in haste and without due care. Not forwarding the case to the Supreme Court, and the precipitous manner in which the case was adjudicated at the Court of Appeals, gives the impression that the judicial authorities were trying to finalize the ruling as quickly as possible. 


On December 20, 2008, Sanandaj Islamic Revolutionary Court Barnch Two sentenced Mr. Mehdikhani to “death by hanging in public” on the charge of “Moharebeh and Efsad fel-Arz”. The ruling was upheld by Kurdistan Province Court of Appeals, Branch Four, on January 19, 2009, but there is no information regarding the approval of the implementation of the sentence in public.

Based on available information, Mr. Mehdikhani’s attorneys requested for a de novo trial and the implementation of Article 18, but their request was not granted (Ensaniat, February 16, 2009).

According to a person with knowledge of the case, Mr. Mehdikhani’s sentence was to be carried out on March 5, 2009, but was delayed due to his family’s efforts (Boroumand Center interview).

According to a person close to Mr. Mehdikhani, on July 28, 2009, 24 hours prior to his execution, Mr. Mehdikhani informed his lawyer of the time of implementation of the death sentence. Mr. Mehdikhani’s attorney asked his family to obtain a letter from the Islamic Consultative Assembly (“Parliament”) to stop the sentence and obtain a new trial. Sanandaj City Council members signed Mr. Mehdikhani’s family’s petition to stop the implementation of the sentence. Upon the Sanandaj Prosecutor’s request, however, Mr. Mehdikhani was hanged on Thursday, July 30, 2009, at 5 AM, in Sanandaj Central Prison (Boroumand Center interview).

According to a person close to Mr. Mehdikhani, local authorities had confirmed his innocence prior to the sentence being carried out, but the Information officials did not care (Boroumand Center interview).

According to available documentation, following Mr. Mehdikhani’s execution, his family followed the ambulance carrying his body in order to receive his body at Sanandaj’s Behesht-e Mohammadi cemetery. The family took delivery of the body; however, the Sanandaj Prosecutor had issued an order that the body was not to be turned over for 24 hours and security agents took the body back from the family and transferred it to the morgue. The next day, Mr. Mehdikhani’s family went to take delivery of his body, and were able to do so 32 hours later in the presence of Information agents and Police officers. The family buried Mr. Mehdikhani’s body at Sanandaj’s Behesht-e Mohammadi cemetery in the presence of his family and a number of his friends. According to a person close to Mr. Mehdikhani, people did not participate in the burial, fearful of Information agents and Police officers (Boroumand Center interview).


*The Shafe’i sect is a branch of Sunni Islam that follows the teachings of Abu Abdollah Mohammad Idris Shafe’i, one of the four Imams of Islam’s Sunnat and Jama’at. The Shafe’i religion is the third oldest denomination of the Sunni faith and follows the teachings of Mohammad, Abu Bakr, Omar, Osman, and Ali.

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