Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Abdollah Farivar Moqadam


Age: 50
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Married


Date of Killing: February 19, 2009
Location of Killing: Sari Prison, Sari, Mazandaran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Acts incompatible with chastity; Adultery

About this Case

Information regarding the execution of Mr. Abodllah Farivar Moghaddam was obtained from numerous sources including the IRNA website, quoting Mazandaran Province Judiciary’s Office of Public Relations (February 21, 2009), Meydan-e Zanan (“Women’s Square”) (February 19, 2009), the Abdorrahman Boroumand interview with the author of the Meydan-e Zanan report based on the court decision, the certificate of Sigheh or “temporary marriage”, and an interview with a person close to Mr. Farivar, Etemad newspaper (February 21, 2009), and BBC Persian (February 19, 2009). Additional information was obtained through other sources.*

Mr. Farivar was 50 years old, married, with 2 children. He was a music instructor in the city of Sari. In 2005, Mr. Farivar entered into a temporary marriage with his student.

According to available information, Mr. Farivar Moghaddam’s case was related to “sexual offenses”. 

Arrest and detention

Based on available information, following the filing of a complaint by the father of one of Mr. Farivar’s female students at the Sari General Prosecutor’s Office on December 5, 2004, alleging Eghfal” (enticing, deceiving, or duping someone into engaging in sexual relations) of her 16-year-old daughter, Mr. Farivar Moghaddam was summoned and detained by Sari Criminal Court Branch Two. Upon the issuance of a court order, he was turned over to Sari Police Force where he was kept for 21 days, from February 7, 2005 until February 28, 2005. During detention, Mr. Farivar Moghaddam was interrogated by the Police Force Information Office agents and was subjected to physical and psychological torture in order to provide a forced confession.


Mazandaran Province Criminal Court, Branch Two tried Mr. Farivar over several sessions. The sessions took place on March 6, April 15, and December 17, 2005. The first trial session convened in the presence of the Police Force Information Office agents. Mr. Farivar had an attorney. (Meydan-e Zanan, February 19, 2009).


The court accused Mr. Farivar Moghaddam of “adultery (as a married man)”. He was accused of having sexual relations with his student prior to entering into temporary marriage with her, while he was married to his wife. (Meydan-e Zanan, February 19, 2009).

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.) Each year Iranian authorities sentence to death hundreds of alleged common criminals, following judicial processes that fail to meet international standards. The exact number of people convicted and executed based on trumped-up charges is unknown.

Evidence of guilt

Based on available information, Mr. Farivar Moghaddam’s confessions and the complaint brought by his student’s father formed the basis for the issuance of the sentence against him. On February 7, 22, and 28, 2005, while in detention, he confessed to having had sexual relations with his student in the city of Babol, prior to the temporary marriage. Furthermore, at the trial session of March 6, 2005, he confessed to having had sexual relations prior to marriage. (Meydan-e Zanan, February 19, 2009).

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.


After the March 6, 2005 trial session, Mr. Farivar denied his previous admissions in subsequent sessions and stated that those confessions had been made under physical and emotional duress and under threats by the Police Force Information Office agents during detention. (Meydan-e Zanan, February 19, 2009).

Two years before the sentence of stoning was upheld by the Supreme Court, Mr. Farivar sent a letter to judicial authorities in which he stated: “On December 5, 2004, Mr. Abbas Ghannad filed a complaint with the City of Sari General Prosecutor’s Office against me, Abdollah Farivar Moghaddam, alleging “Eghfal” [that I had enticed and duped] his daughter Naghmeh Sadat Ghannad, [into having sexual relations] and requested that the case be sent to the Sari Police Force Information Office to be investigated. On December 13, 2004, Mr. Ghannad stated at the Sari Police Force Information Office: ‘I have a daughter who is now 21; after her treatment, and in order to strengthen her spirits, I sent her to learn to play keyboards with Mr. Abdollah Farivar Moghaddam, where my daughter learned to play keyboards. Recently I noticed that Mr. Farivar had taken advantage of my daughter’s emotional weakness and her young age.’ Ms. Naghmeh Sadat Ghannad, born in 1983, stated: ‘About 4 years ago when I was 16, my father took me to Mr. Farivar Moghaddam to learn to play keyboards. He would touch my body, take me in his arms; I was exactly sixteen years old. I was embarrassed the first year but he kept doing what he did, until after a year, I wasn’t embarrassed anymore and he treated me like we were husband and wife.’ I stated in interrogations that given the Medical Examiner’s certificate number 13/m/3462 dated July 3, 2004, declaring that Ms. Ghannad’s hymen [was not intact or] lacking, I entered into temporary marriage with her on July 10, 2004. Ms. Ghannad stated to the Investigating Judge on January 10, 2005, that I had gone to the Medical Examiner’s Office and requested a certificate of virginity. On January 24, 2005, the Investigating Judge declared the Province Criminal Court not the competent authority [to hear the case] and the case was sent to Criminal Court Branch Two. Branch Two summoned me and I was put at the disposal of the Sari Police Force Information Office agents from February 7, 2005, to February 28, 2005, pursuant to a court order. Fearful of the agents, I had to confess that I had sex with Ms. Ghannad, with her consent, prior to marriage, at the home of Mr. Abbas Malek Afzali in the city of Babol. On August 23, 2005, I declared in court that all the confessions I had made in the previous session were due to the presence of Police Force Information Office agents and the fear I had because of the threats they had made. I deny these confessions. Additionally, given the hospital records attached hereto, my wife suffered from uterus illnesses and I could not have natural sexual relations with her. I was never sent from prison to court on March 6, 2005, let alone make a confession to adultery before the court that day. According to the psychiatrist’s certificate dated February 12, 2005, issued by Sari’s Shahid Zare Hospital, Ms. Ghannad has no emotional or psychological illnesses, let alone me taking advantage of such a thing. Why would I enter into a temporary marriage with Ms. Ghannad if I did not believe in and consider myself bound by the laws of Islam? I married Ms. Ghannad with her consent because of the marital problems I had with my spouse. I said all of this in the April 15, 2005 court session; nevertheless, on December 21, 2005, Mazandaran Province Criminal Court, Branch Two, issued Court Decision number 950 whereby it issued a sentence of stoning on the charge of adultery. On appeal, the case was referred to Supreme Court Branch 41 whose seat is in the city of Mashhad. On August 1, 2006, said Branch issued Court Decision number 117 and upheld the lower court’s decision verbatim. This sentence is contrary to the law and to the tenets of Islam for numerous reasons:

1- Pursuant to Article 43 of the Law on Criminal Procedure, investigations into the crime of adultery by the Police Force is prohibited. The Province Criminal Court, Branch Two, however, turned me over to the Sari Police Force Information Office where I was held from February 7 to February 28, 2005, so that they could conduct investigations into the crime of adultery. Said agents would bring me to court and I, in fear of physical and psychological torture, was forced to confess on February 7, 22, and 28, 2005, to having had sexual relations with Ms. Ghannad prior to temporary marriage. These confessions have no legal credence and value as I did not confess willingly, voluntarily, and intentionally. And why was it necessary for me to be turned over to the Police Force Information Office for investigations if there was sufficient evidence of my guilt already? That was why I explained in the August 23 and December 17, 2005 sessions that the prior confessions had been obtained under duress, and were the result of torture and fear of the Police Force Information Office agents, and I expressly denied those confessions.  Therefore, said confessions are void and without legal value and credence pursuant to Article 69 of the Islamic Penal Code. Additionally, pursuant to Islamic Penal Code Article 71, whenever a person confesses to adultery but later denies it, if such confession concerns the type of adultery the punishment for which is death or stoning, the denial does away with and nullifies the Hadd punishments of stoning and death. Unfortunately, the honorable court has not paid attention to this very important issue.

2- I was never sent from the Sari prison to court on March 6, 2005. How did the honorable court state my fourth confession to have been made on that date? According to Islamic Penal Code Article 68, adultery must be confessed to four times, expressly, and without any doubts or misgivings, whereas I confessed to adultery under duress and in fear of agents.

3- No one has testified that I had sexual relations with Ms. Ghannad prior to marriage.

4- My spouse suffered from uterus issues since the year 2000, to the extent that the doctors finally removed it, and I did not have the possibility of sexual enjoyment in a natural fashion. My spouse was ill and, pursuant to Islamic Penal Code Article 86, if a woman has a valid excuse, the punishment of stoning is done away with and nullified. Unfortunately, the honorable court did not pay attention to this matter. 

I stated that I had sex with Ms. Ghannad at Abbas Malek Afzali’s home in the city of Babol prior to temporary marriage. According to Ayatollah Khomeini’s Fatwa (religious decree by a high religious scholar), if a person is 24 kilometers (14 miles) away from his wife, the punishment [for adultery] is not stoning. Given that my residence was in Sari and the distance between Babol and Sari is about 50 kilometers (30 miles), why did the honorable judges not pay attention to the matter and issue a stoning sentence in my case? I beg all the authorities to examine my case in accordance with the law, and prevent the sentence of stoning from being carried out.” (Meydan-e Zanan, February 19, 2009).

In an interview with radio Farda, Mr. Farivar’s sister stated: “My brother was arrested in December 2004. He had married a woman six months prior to his arrest but the girl’s father framed him and made up a fake dossier with the influence he had, and they threw him in jail for adultery. My brother had gotten married in June of that same year, but they brought the complaint in December. The judge completely disregarded the evidence and documentation proving the legality of their marriage, and instead focused and relied only on confessions obtained from my brother under duress. The confessions they referred to did not even exist and he was in jail that whole time. That is, there is no entry and exit time to go to court in the prison registry; there was no trial whatsoever, let alone a confession made there at such and such date. They didn’t even put documents attesting to my sister-in-law’s illness, not even the marriage certificate that showed that the girl was married to my brother for [the specified period of] 99 years (as specific time is an element of temporary marriages) in the case file; they did not even take one look at these documents whatsoever, and just took them out of the file. I went to Qom on Monday to see if I could meet with [the then-Head of the Judiciary] Mr. Shahrudi, but they told me he would not be back to work or another two months, that is, until after Noruz holidays (the Persian New year) and cannot receive anyone. We travelled for 48 hours in cold and snowy weather and stood on the street until the offices opened but no one gave us any answers.” (February 1, 2008).

 A Summary of the Legal Defects in the Adjudication of Mr. Abdollah Farivar’s case

There are considerable legal defects in this case that [effectively] render Abdollah Farivar’s death sentence illegal. The following is a summary of these defects:

a- Pursuant to Iranian law, preliminary investigations and the questioning of the accused are to be conducted by the prosecutor’s office. The judicial authority at the prosecutor’s office may delegate certain portions of these investigations to law enforcement officials. This rule has, however, one exception: [sex] crimes. The law [generally] prohibits investigation into sex crimes for [particular] reasons, and when permitted, investigations are to be conducted solely by the trial judge. Article 43 of the Law on the General and Revolutionary Courts Rules of Criminal Procedure expressly provides: “With the exception of [sex crimes, otherwise referred to as] cases related to unchaste behavior, judges and examining magistrates may refer search and investigation of witnesses and other persons with knowledge of the case; collection of information, proof and evidence of the crime; or any other action they deem necessary in the investigation of the crime; to law enforcement authorities, once the latter have been properly trained for this purpose. These actions shall have the value of circumstantial evidence. Note – Investigation of [sex crimes or] crimes of unchaste behavior is prohibited, except in cases where the crime is committed in plain sight, or there is a private plaintiff.  In such cases, investigation shall be conducted by the trial judge.” As can be seen, the law states that investigations must be conducted by the trial judge where there is a private plaintiff in a sex crime, and no other authority, including prosecutor’s office officials or the police, is authorized to intervene in these cases. According to available reports, however, Abdollah Farivar was arrested by police officers and the trial judge released the accused into police custody for 21 days, whereas he was charged with a sex crime. These police officials interrogated the defendant and obtained a confession from him. All of these actions are instances of preliminary investigation. The judge has, therefore, acted illegally in delegating certain investigations to law enforcement.

b- In his statements, Abdollah Farivar stated that his confession to police officials was obtained under torture and duress, whereas subjecting a defendant to torture and duress are illegal under Iranian laws and considered to be a crime. Furthermore, any confessions or admissions so obtained are without legal credence. Principle 38 of the Iranian Constitution, as well as certain Iranian laws and other international documents to which the Iranian government is a signatory, expressly refer to the matter, considering obtaining confessions under torture a criminal act and individuals who resort to such action as criminals. Therefore, the court should have conducted the necessary investigations into the veracity of the defendant’s claim of torture when he stated that he had made a confession under duress.

c- According to available reports, the Province Criminal Court judges issued a sentence of death by stoning based on the defendant’s confession to commission of adultery. Pursuant to Iranian law, certain conditions must be fulfilled [in order for] confessions to crimes that carry Hadd punishments [to be valid]; for instance, the confession must be made four times and in four different phases before the judge who decides the case. Islamic Penal Code Article 68 provides: “If a man or a woman confesses four times before the judge to adultery, he or she shall be sentenced to the Hadd punishment prescribed for adultery; but if he or she confesses fewer than four times, the punishment shall be one of ‘Ta’zir’, [at the judge’s discretion].” Based on available reports, first, Mr. Farivar’s confession was made to police officers, and secondly, he had not confessed four times before the judge. The important issue, however, is the denial of the confession. In certain crimes, if the defendant, subsequent to making a confession, considers his/her confession to be false for any reason, the court is no longer permitted to cite such confession. The law has put special emphasis on this rule in the crime of adultery with a married woman. Islamic Penal Code Article 71 provides: “When a person confesses to adultery and subsequently denies it, and if the sentence for the confessed adultery is death or stoning [to death], the subsequent denial removes the Hadd punishments of death and stoning; otherwise, the denial after confession shall not result in removal of the Hadd punishment.” Based on available reports, Mr. Farivar denied commission of the crime at trial; the court relied on said confession, however, and issued a guilty sentence based thereon. This action was completely against the law.

d- “Ehsan” (“the condition of a reasonable adult person, male or female, who is married and his/her spouse is at his disposal for his/her sexual pleasure.” Source: Wikifeqh.ir) in Iran has its own special conditions. A person can be considered “Mohsen” (“a man who has Ehsan”) when he has the possibility of having sexual relations with his wife, and it has even been said that a wife’s menstrual cycle, gets the husband out of “Ehsan”. In this case, Abdollah Farivar claimed that his wife had been ill and there was no possibility of having sexual relations with her. It was incumbent upon the Province Criminal Court to conduct the necessary investigations into this and other conditions of “Ehsan”.

e- The Mazandaran Province Criminal Court sentenced Farivar to death by stoning which was upheld by the Supreme Court. In the sentence implementation phase, however, he was executed by hanging. Based on available reports, judicial authorities changed the stoning sentence to a murder sentence. Farivar was sentenced to stoning and judicial authorities were not allowed, under any circumstances, to change that sentence to murder. It seems that this action was taken to escape criticism by human rights organizations, as well as to [bypass] the then-Head of the Judiciary’s directives prohibiting the implementation of death by stoning sentences.


On December 21, 2005, pursuant to Court Decision 950, Mazandaran Province Criminal Court, Branch two, sentenced Mr. Abdollah Farivar Moghaddam to “[death by] stoning”. Supreme Court Branch 41 upheld the decision on August 1, 2006. (Meydan-e Zanan, February 19, 2009).

Based on available information, in a phone call to Mr. Farivar Moghaddam’s family at noon on February 18, 2009, the court informed them of the modification of the stoning sentence to death by hanging, and of the time of the implementation of the sentence. That same day, his family went to prison and were told that it was possible that the execution could be stayed if they obtained a letter from Sari’s Friday Prayer Imam [to that effect]. The family went to the Friday Prayer Imam’s office and met with him, but since they were in the process of gathering the documents he had requested, they were not able to meet with him again to obtain the letter. (Etemad Melli newspaper, February 21, 2009).

On Thursday, February 19, 2009, at 6 o’clock in the morning, Mr. Farivar Moghaddam was hanged at Sari Central Prison in the presence of Mazandaran Province General and Revolutionary Prosecutor. (IRNA, February 21, 2009).

Mr. Farivar Moghaddam’s family took possession of his body at 7 o’clock in the morning of February 19, 2009, and buried him a few hours later. (Etemad Melli newspaper, February 21, 2009).


Amir Kabir News Website (February 1, 2008), Widespread Campaign Against the Regime of A Hundred Thousand Executions (November 29, 2007), Radio Farda (February 1, 2008), International Committee against the Death penalty (April 3, 2007).

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