Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

https://www.iranrights.org
Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Latif Feizollahi

About

Age: 48
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam (Sunni)
Civil Status: Married

Case

Date of Killing: December 17, 2013
Location: Central Prison (Dizelabad), Kermanshah, Kermanshah Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Murder
Age at time of offense: 33

About this Case

News of the execution of Mr. Latif Feizollahi, son of Ahmad Morad, was published on the Kurdistan-Kordpa News Agency’s website. Additional information about this case was obtained through an Abdorrahman Boroumand Center interview with a person close to Mr. Fezollahi, and from documents available at the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center, including a brief written by Mr. Feizollahi’s attorney, the Court Decision, and the Decision of the Supreme Court of Iran.

Mr. Feizollahi was born in 1965-66 in the town of Ravansar’s village of Dolatabad in Kermanshah Province. He had a seventh grade education, was married and had two children, and was a farmer. According to a person close to him, Mr. Feizollahi was a quiet, dignified, and religious man.

Mr. Feizollahi’s case is related to the murder of his cousin in a collective family brawl in the Banchian Sofla village in 1998-99.

Arrest and detention

On November 30, 1998, following a complaint brought by the next of kin, Dolatabad village police officers arrested Mr. Feizollahi, his wife, his father, sister, and two of his brothers and took them into custody at the police post. The next morning, Mr. Feizollahi was transferred to Kermanshah’s Diesel Abad Prison.

Mr. Feizollahi spent 16 years and 21 days at Kermanshah’s Diesel Abad Prison and was allowed weekly in-person visitations with his family.

Trial

The Town of Ravansar General Court, Branch One, was the first court to try Mr. Feizollahi. Following an appeal of the court’s decision by Mr. Feizollahi’s attorney, Supreme Court Branch Seven remanded the case to the Town of Javanrud General Court, Branch Two. Javanrud Court’s decision was upheld by Supreme Court Branch 16, and upon the Head of the Judiciary’s opposition to the implementation of the ruling, Supreme Court Branch 40 examined the case once again and upheld Supreme Court Branch 16’s decision. Upon a request for a de novo trial submitted by three of the Supreme Court judges considering the case and the approval of the Head of the Judiciary, the case was ultimately remanded by Supreme Court Branch 20 to the Town of Ravansar Criminal Court, Branch 101. (Documents available at the Boroumand Center).

According to available information, Mr. Feizollahi’s attorney accompanied him in the court sessions. (Boroumand Center interview).

Charges

The charge brought against Mr. Feizollahi was “being the principal in intentional murder”.

During a collective scuffle between several members of Mr. Feizollahi’s family, using shovels, pickaxes, and stones, Mr. Feizollahi’s cousin sustained injuries to the neck and the spinal cord and died five days later, on November 29, 1998, at Kermanshah’s Taleqani Hospital.

The validity of the criminal charges brought against this defendant cannot be ascertained in the absence of the basic guarantees of a fair trial. 

Evidence of guilt

The Police report naming Mr. Feizollahi as the perpetrator of the injuries, a complaint brought by the injured person while undergoing medical treatment at the hospital along with the next of kin’s complaint, the Medical Examiner’s report, and Mr. Feizollahi’s own statements and admissions were among the evidence presented against him at trial. (Documents available at the Boroumand Center).

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.

Defense

Although Mr. Feizollahi made admissions and confessions in the preliminary investigations stage, he later denied his confessions at trial and stated that they were made under threats and duress. He stated that he had accepted the charge of murder so that his wife and sister who had been arrested at the same time he was, could be released. Mr. Feizollahi stated that his father had been the one who had struck the victim, and even though his father accepted the charge of murder at trial, the court did not accept Mr. Feizollahi’s denial and his father’s confession. The Javanrud General Court, Branch Two judge cited Mr. Feizollahi’s father’s physical frailty and advanced age as the only reason for dismissing his confession, and conducted no other examination and/or investigations in this regard. (Interview and Documents available at the Boroumand Center).

According to available information, no witness in court confirmed Mr. Feizollahi striking the victim.

The fact that this case was tried in three separate trial courts and was examined by four separate Supreme Court Branches in a span of over 16 years is indicative of the lack of sufficient evidence against Mr. Feizollahi, as well as doubt by, and lack of agreement among, the judges of various courts in attributing the charges to him.

Judgment

On February 18, 2010, the Town of Ravansar Criminal Court, Branch 101, sentenced Mr. Feizollahi to Qesas of life (the death penalty as retribution) on the basis of the judge’s knowledge [and assessment of the case] as evidence of the crime.

The Town of Ravansar General Court, Branch One, had sentenced Mr. Feizollahi to Qesas on 3 separate occasions based on the judge’s knowledge and on Qassameh*, and each time, Supreme Court Branch 7 had overturned the sentence. Ultimately, Supreme Court Branch 7 remanded the case to the Town of Javanrud General Court, Branch Two, which issued a sentence of Qesas for Mr. Feizollahi once again. Upon a request for a de novo trial, the case was ultimately sent to the Town of Ravansar Criminal Court, Branch 101, by Supreme Court Branch 20 for a final examination and decision.

Mr. Feizollahi was hanged at Kermanshah’s Diesel Abad Prison on December 17, 2103, in the presence of the next of kin, and without his family’s knowledge.

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* “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. 

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