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

Zanyar Moradi

About

Age: 30
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam (Sunni)
Civil Status: Single

Case

Date of Execution: September 8, 2018
Location: Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Execution: Hanging
Charges: War on God; Murder; Acting against state's security
Age at time of offense: 21

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 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.

  • The right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, including the right to change and manifest one’s religion or belief.

UDHR, Article 18; ICCPR, Article 18.1, ICCPR, Article 18.2; Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, Article 1 and Article 6.

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 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.

Judgment rights

  • The right to appeal to a court of higher jurisdiction.

ICCPR, Article 14.5.

  • The right to seek pardon or commutation of sentence.

ICCPR, Article 6.4.

Capital punishment
  • The inherent right to life, of which no one shall be arbitrarily deprived.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Article 3; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 6.1; Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, Article 1.1, Article 1.2.

  • The right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.

ICCPR, Article 7; Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Article 1 and Article 2.

About this Case

Believed that he was not being punished for a crime he had committed himself. He considered his case a political one and had asked for a fair trial on numerous occasions.

News of the execution of Mr. Zanyar Moradi, his cousin, Loqman Moradi, and another individual, was published by Fars News Agency (September 8, 2018) and the official website of Tehran General and Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office (September 8, 2018). Additional information was obtained through research and documentation by the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center, including official documents, as well as interviews with two persons with knowledge of the case, including a former ward mate (September 8, and 10, 2018) and other sources. (1) 

Mr. Zanyar Moradi, son of Eqbal, was born in 1988 in Marivan, a border town in Kurdistan Province. Mr. Moradi’s father was a well-known political activist and lived in Iraqi Kurdistan. Mr. Moradi’s family had entrusted him to his grandparents since he was a child. (Mostaghel newspaper, September 12, 2018). 

According to Mr. Moradi’s ward mates, he had a great artistic flair and provided ideas to his cousin who created artistic products in prison. (Boroumand Center interview with one of Mr. Moradi’s ward mates, September 10, 2018). He had a nice voice and liked music. He played musical instruments, specifically Setar (a traditional Iranian instrument), and sang, and encouraged others to sing along. Mr. Moradi spent most of his time in jail reading, and always wanted to continue his education. (Boroumand Center interview with a person who knew Mr. Moradi, September 8, 2018). He seriously pursued studying English and read philosophy and sociology books. He was very fond of technology as well. His fellow prisoners have described him as an intelligent and responsible person who was very sociable, and participated in prison group activities such as general cleaning of wards, in spite serious injury to his back and spine, suffered in the course of interrogations. (Boroumand Center interview with one of Mr. Moradi’s ward mates, September 10, 2018). 

According to one of his ward mates, Mr. Moradi was an empathetic and sensitive person who also held strong logical principles based on human rights. He was frank and direct, and did not compromise his principles in spite of being a peace-seeking and tolerant man. He always criticized [the government’s] centralization policies and lack of investment in Kurdistan. (Boroumand Center interview with one of Mr. Moradi’s ward mates, September 10, 2018).

United Nations officials had repeatedly asked Iran to stop Mr. Moradi’s execution. The last time they had transmitted a message to Iran was the day before his execution. (United Nations website, September 7, 2018). Other human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, had expressed concern about the execution of Mr. Moradi and his cousin, both before and after the death sentence was carried out. (Boroumand Center research). In a communique issued after its implementation, Amnesty International objected to Mr. Moradi’s execution, citing violations of fair trial standards. (Amnesty International website, September 8, 2018).

According to reports, Mr. Moradi’s case was related to the murder of three individuals in Marivan in 2009. 

Furthermore, since he came from a political family, the case’s connection to his family’s activities was brought up by the family, as well as by Mr. Moradi himself. Mr. Zanyar Moradi’s father, Mr. Eqbal Moradi, was a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party.

Mr. Eqbal Moradi had been the target of two assassination attempts in Iraqi Kurdistan in 2008 and 2018; the second one in July 2018 resulted in his death.

 

The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) was founded in 1945 with the objective of gaining autonomy for Kurdistan in northwestern Iran. After the 1979 Revolution, disagreements between the new central Shiite government and the mainly Sunni Kurdistan resulted in armed clashes between the Revolutionary Guards and the Peshmerga (PDKI militia), centering around issues such as the role of minorities in the drafting of the constitution, designation of Shiism as the official state religion, and, particularly, the question of Kurdistan’s autonomy. Mass executions and fierce fighting continued for months in the region. In the four years that followed, PDKI lost much of its power in the region. A number of the Democratic Party of Kurdistan’s leaders have been assassinated. Following internal conflicts, a schism occurred in the Party in 2006, and it was divided into two organizations, “The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan” and “The Kurdistan Democratic Party”. The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan which had suspended its armed activities in the 2000’s until about 2014, started using its Peshmergas that year in order to conduct an armed struggle against the Isklamic Republic. (Kayhan London, October 23, 2016).

 

This and other armed Kurdish parties active in the region, accepted responsibility for more than ten armed operations inside Iranian territory between 2016 and 2018. (Boroumand Center research).

Arrest and detention

On August 3, 2009, Mr. Moradi was arrested in the town of Marivan by police officers and Information Ministry agents. (Boroumand Center Newsletter, Letter to the United Nations Special Rapporteur, January 30, 2012). Mr. Moradi was banned from visitation for just under a year and a half (HRANA, January 17, 2011); his family had no knowledge of his condition and was worried that he might have been secretly executed. (Jaras, February 13, 2011). 24 hours after his arrest, Mr. Moradi was transferred from Marivan to the city of Snanadaj Information Administration Detention Center. He spent approximately 9 months in a solitary confinement cell at the city of Snanadaj Information Administration Detention Center and was interrogated and tortured by 6 to 7 individuals. (HRANA, January 17, 2011). According to Mr. Moradi, during the first days of interrogation, they would only ask him about his father – who was a Kurdish political activist – and his father’s entourage. Mr. Moradi had previously been summoned to Sanandaj Information Administration on numerous occasions in order to provide explanations [regarding his activities] and/or cooperate in arresting his father. (Iran Azadi, September 12, 2018).

According to Mr. Moradi, a few days after his arrest, the interrogators brought up the subject of the three murders in Marivan and asked him to accept responsibility for them but he refused. In a letter to the United Nations Special Rapporteur, Mr. Moradi stated that his interrogators had resorted to all kinds of threats and torture in order to force him to accept responsibility for the murders, so much so that he was unable to tend to his personal care in the first two months of his detention because of the pain and injuries he had suffered from the torture. Mr. Moradi explained the manner in which he was tortured in the letter, stating that the interrogators would tie him up to a bed and flog and kick him. They would hurl insults at him while he was being tortured, and would make threats that they would persecute his family and would kill him. They would show him soda bottles tied to the chairs in the interrogation room and would repeatedly threaten him with sexual assault while insulting him. Mr. Moradi suffered from injuries to the testicles in the course of interrogations, in the form of hemorrhage and burning sensations. No action was taken during that time to treat him. (HRANA, January 17, 2011). He also suffered from injuries to the spine the result of which was that he was not able to move about much and do heavy activities. (Boroumand Center interview with one of Mr. Moradi’s ward mates, September 10, 2018).

Mr. Moradi’s interrogators would tie him to a bed and would flog and kick him. They would hurl insults at him while he was being tortured, and would make threats that they would persecute his family and would kill him.

 In response to his objections to being tortured, prison officials had told him on one occasion: “This is a political game. When your father engages in activities against us, he should expect something like this to happen.” (Iran Azadi, September 12, 2018).

In April 2010, Mr. Moradi was transferred to Sanandaj Prison where he spent approximately 6 months. (Kurdistan Human Rights Organization, April 23, 2014). He was taken back to the Sanandaj Information Administration detention center once again, and taken back to Snanadaj Prison after one month. In December 2010, Mr. Moradi was taken to Evin Prison Ward 209 to attend his trial. A week after the trial, Mr. Moradi was transferred to Rajaishahr Prison Ward 4 along with his cousin, where he spent approximately 8 years before he was executed. (HRANA, January 17, 2011).

Mr. Moradi only had two or three visitations with his grandparents the entire time he was incarcerated. (Boroumand Center interview with one of Mr. Moradi’s ward mates, September 10, 2018). 

Mr. Moradi was the ward representative at Rajaishahr Prison for a long time, and rigorously pursued the needs and problems of other prisoners. (Boroumand Center interview with a person who knew Mr. Moradi, September 8, 2018).

Trial

Mr. Moradi was tried once on the charge of Moharebeh (“waging war with God”) and once on the charge of being an accomplice in murder, for the killing of three individuals in the town of Marivan on July 5, 2009. The first trial took place on December 22, 2010, at Tehran Islamic Revolutionary Court, Branch 15 in an open session and in the presence of the murder victims’ next of kin (one of the victims was the Marivan Friday Prayer Imam’s son), defense attorneys, and reporters who had been permitted to attend. (Iran newspaper, December 23, 2010). The court heard Mr. Moradi’s Moharebeh case. The officials brought Mr. Moradi into the courtroom in handcuffs and shackles. (HRANA, January 17, 2011). 

“The case of the murder of three individuals and a demand for Qesas by Marivan’s Friday Prayer Imam” was sent to Tehran Province Criminal Court, Branch 75, by Supreme Court Branch Seven.  (Mostaqel newspaper, September 12, 2018, Mehr News Agency, September 8, 2018). The case was to be heard in an extraordinary court session. (Iran newspaper, December 28, 2010). The first session at this Branch, convened on July 23, 2014. Due to defects in the case, it was still open and pending at the time of Mr. Moradi’s execution. (Mostaqel newspaper, September 12, 2018). 

Charges

Judicial authorities charged Mr. Moradi in two separate cases, one with “Moharebeh” and the other with “intentional murder”. In effect, the charge of Moharebeh was brought because of the assassination of three individuals for which Mr. Moradi had been charged with “intentional murder”. (Iran newspaper, December 28, 2010, Qanun newspaper, September 12, 2018 ). 

“Acting against national security, illegal crossing of the border, and complicity in transportation and possession of weapons of war” were among other charges brought against Mr. Moradi. (Official website of theTehran General and Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office, September 8, 2018). 

Evidence of guilt 

Mr. Moradi’s confession during interrogations, his televised confession broadcast on Press TV (Kurdistan Human Rights Organization, April 23, 2014), and his statements at his first trial were used as evidence against him. Furthermore, published reports allude to “evidence and documentation” for which there is no information available. (Mehr News Agency, September 8, 2018). 

According to official reports, on July 5, 2009, at 9 PM, three individuals, one of whom was Marivan Friday Prayer Imam’s son, were killed by bullets fired from what was said to have been a Kalashnikov weapon. (Mehr News Agency, September 8, 2018). Based on the published reports, the killers had escaped the scene on a motorbike and thrown the weapon to a lake. In the court, Mr, Moradi confessed that he had accepted the proposal from an Iraqi citizen to do the terror, convinced his co-defendant, got the weapon, and at the end killed three people in Marivan. (Official website of theTehran General and Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office, September 8, 2018). In confessions obtained from Mr. Moradi in the course of interrogations, there is a reference made to his contact with a security official of the Kurdistan Autonomous Region [in Iraq] in charge of combatting Ansar al-Islam’s Salafis. The report stated that he had obtained money and weapons from said individual and was supposed to get the rest of the money after the assassination, and then obtain asylum in a foreign country with the help of his intermediary. (Mehr News Agency, September 8, 2018).  According to Mr. Moradi’s statement in the court, his co-defendatn who was the rear rider shot the deceaseds and then they left the scene together. (Kayhan newspaper December 23, 2010).He also stated that he left for Iraq after the terror. (Iran newspaper, December 28, 2010). 

Defense

Mr. Moradi attended the trial session on December 22, 2010, with his attorney. However, he was not able to defend himself due to threats by the Information Administration officials and because of food poisoning. According to Mr. Moradi’s co-defendant, the judge would mix up the details of their respective cases without paying attention to each defendant’s name. (HRANA, January 17, 2011).

According to Mr. Moradi, he and his co-defendant, were threatened before the trial by the security offices and their interrogators that if they would not confirm what they had previously mentioned in the interrogations, they would be returned to the Information Ministry detention centers. Mr Moradi added “I would have preferred to die but not go back there again.” (Boroumand Center Newsletter, Letter to the United Nations Special Rapporteur, January 30, 2012).

According to one of Mr. Moradi’s lawyers, the court cited the confessions extracted from Mr. Moradi, existing in his case file, as a basis for its ruling. Mr. Moradi’s attorney considered his and his co-defendant’s confessions as not reliable as a basis for the issuance of a sentence because of the way they were written: “The interrogations and the investigations are not in a question and answer format. They are a narrative, as if telling a story, which these two have simply signed. When I saw the text of both of their confessions in the case file, I realized that they were exactly the same and the words used were exactly the same. Even if two people do something together, they don’t tell what happened using the same writing style and the same wording. Every person has their own tone and wording specific to themselves that they use. But these two people’s confessions were written in such a similar fashion that it was not [believable or] acceptable.” (BBC Persian, September 11, 2018).

According to the law, denial and retraction of admissions and confessions in cases that result in the issuance of a death sentence, nullifies the death sentence. Mr. Moradi repeatedly denied his statements in court and said that he had been “a victim of cruel and inhuman torture at the hands of the Sanandaj Information Ministry”.

The testimony of two people who had stated in the media that they had seen the perpetrators of the murders was never used and relied on at trial. They had claimed that the perpetrators bore no resemblance to Mr. Moradi and his co-defendant. (Kordpa, November 13, 2013).

In the official media, Mr. was introduced a s amember of armed groups. He later rejected that in the trials. He emphasized in the court that “I was not a member of any political group. Have I had any intention of joining a group, I would have definitely gone to my father.” Mr. Moradi’s father, Eqbal Moradi, was one of the Komala leaders who had been killed a while back in Iraq Kurdistan. (Mostaqel Newspaper, September 12, 2018)

Denying having any contacts with political groups, Mr. Moradi stated: “Wouldn’t there be signs of organizational affiliation and contact between me and that entity [if such contacts actually existed]?” According to Mr. Moradi, the security apparatus did not even conduct a search of his and his co-defendants’ homes because there was no evidence of such contacts. Mr. Moradi further emphasized that “there was no evidence of possession of firearms and the ability to use such weapons” in his case. (Boroumand Center Newsletter, Letter to the United Nations Special Rapporteur, January 30, 2012).

According to one of his ward mates, Mr. Moradi had said: “If we had done this, we most certainly would have gone to Iraqi Kurdistan after the assassination and would not have waited to be arrested a month later. Going to Iraqi Kurdistan was a piece of cake.” (Boroumand Center interview with one of Mr. Moradi’s ward mates, September 10, 2018).

After the first trial and transfer to Raja’ishahr prison, Mr. Moradi rejected his statements several times and said “I am a victim of the Sanandaj Information Office’s cruel and inhumane tortures”. He believed the treatment he received from the Infomration Office was political and because of his father’s activities. He asked the people, media, and human rights organizations to follow up on his complaints from the information offices. He explained the severity of the tortures and harrassments during the interrogations to the extent that he had several times thought about commiting suicide and freeing himself from that situation. Mr. Moradi also emphasized that he had had no access to an attorney until the day of the trial. (Boroumand Center Newsletter, Letter to the United Nations Special Rapporteur, January 30, 2012). Mr. Moradi’s request for an appeal of the decision regarding Moharebeh to the Court of Appeals was not granted. (HRANA, October 26, 2011).

After the first trial session, in December 2010, Mr. Moradi’s family’s contact with his lawyer was cut off and the attorney would not return the family’s calls. They were deprived of another lawyer for a long time because other attorneys would not accept to take on the case. (Jaras, February 13, 2011).

Mr. Moradi and his co-defendant had a case where they were charged with Moharebeh, and a separate case related to the murder of three individuals. He retained another attorney starting in March 2014 for the murder case, and presented a defense once again accompanied by the attorney at the trial session dated July 27, 2014. According to Mr. Moradi’s attorney, there was a direct correlation between the murder case and the Moharebeh case, and the trial court’s immediate implementation of the sentence was delayed due to defects in the murder case. (Mostaqel newspaper, September 12, 2018).

Regarding the defects in the murder case, Mr. Moradi’s attorney stated: “The report of the crime scene reconstruction was not in the file. Furthermore, the file contained the statement ‘the weapon was thrown in Zarivar Lake after the murder where there is a reed bed’. They should have investigated and found the weapon, and determined if the shell casings they claimed they had found at the murder scene, matched the weapon.” According to Mr. Moradi’s lawyer, without proof of the murder, the [veracity of] the story of Mr. Moradi’s contact with a foreigner and getting money and weapon from him was also in doubt. For those reasons, the legal defects were recognized as such and the case was referred to Tehran Criminal Prosecutor’s Office and Marivan Prosecutor’s Office several times to address those defects. However, those defects were never obviated and redressed. According to Mr. Moradi’s attorney, the murder case was based on Haqq al-Nass (the right of the people), and such rights take precedence over Moharebeh, which is God’s right, [and, according to Islamic principles, God can forsake, but people’s rights cannot be forsaken]. Therefore, the murder case had to be dealt with and come to a conclusion before all else. (Mostaqel newspaper, September 12, 2018).

In a video recording broadcast the day before his execution, he asked for a fair trial. (Kurdistan Human Rights Network, September 8, 2018). 

Summary of the defects of Mr Moradi's legal proceedings

Two separate cases were initiated against the defendants, one on the charge of Moharebeh, which was heard at the Revolutionary Court and resulted in a death sentence, and the other for intentional murder, adjudicated at the Criminal Court, which did not result in a final ruling. Such actions were contrary to the law: If an individual commits multiple criminal acts that are defined within a single crime, said individual must be tried in a single tribunal. In other words, charging a person with intentional murder and Moharebeh for a single act, that of “murdering several individuals”, is not correct; such an act must be tried either as Moharebeh (provided the other requirements for the crime are satisfied) or as intentional murder.

Pursuant to Iranian law, in the event that a person is charged with several crimes, it is necessary to hear all the charges before a final ruling is issued. Further, when it comes to implementation, Qesas, as a right of the people, takes precedence over Hodud. Islamic Penal Code Article 133 provides: “In the event that there are multiple offenses punishable by Hadd and Qesas, the punishments shall be aggregated. However, if a Hadd punishment obviates Qesas or causes delay in implementing Qesas, the latter shall take precedence over the former, and in the event Qesas is not immediately demanded, is forgiven [by the next of kin], or substituted with Diah, then Hadd punishment shall be implemented.” In the case of Zanyar and Loqman Moradi, the death sentence for Moharebeh was carried out while the murder case was still under consideration. What should have happened was for the murder case to have ended and a final judgment issued, and if a sentence of Qesas had been pronounced, it would take precedence [over the sentence for Moharebeh].

According to multiple reports, the defendants in this case were severely tortured and forced to make incriminating confessions. Pursuant to Iranian laws, subjecting a defendant to torture and duress is illegal and considered a crime. Any confession or admission obtained therefrom is also without legal merit. Principle 38 of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Constitution (2), as well as other Iranian laws such as the Law for Respecting Legitimate Freedoms and Safeguarding Citizens Rights, Paragraph 9 of 2004 (3), and Islamic Penal Code Article 169 of 2013 (4), have expressly made provisions in this regard. Other laws such as Islamic Penal Code Article 578 consider obtaining confessions through torture a crime, and individuals resorting to such acts as criminals (5). It was therefore necessary for the court to have investigated the matter and only then cite the defendants’ confessions as evidence for its ruling. Furthermore, in accordance with Iranian law, including the Islamic Penal Code and the Law on General and Revolutionary Courts Rules of Criminal Procedure, admissions and confessions, particularly those made in crimes that carry Hadd punishments, are valid and have legal merit only when they have been made before the judge issuing the sentence. (Note to Article 59 of the Law on General and Revolutionary Courts Rules of Criminal Procedure, Islamic Penal Code Article 218, Note 2). In other words, although a confession made to individuals other than the judge is considered to be a type of evidence, for it to be the basis of the court’s ruling, it must be heard by the judge issuing the sentence. Therefore, confessions made by Messrs. Zanyar and Loqman Moradi before the investigating judge and/or law enforcement officers in the preliminary investigations stage cannot constitute the basis for the judge’s ruling.

Another point that must be made here is that confessions made in crimes that carry Hadd punishments have their own particular requirements that have not been taken into consideration in this case. Pursuant to Shari’a rules as well as the Islamic Penal Code Article 173, if an individual confesses to a crime the punishment for which is death, and then takes his/her admission back for any reason, the death penalty is no longer be applicable (6) Therefore, since Messrs. Zanyar and Loqman Moradi were tried for the crime of Moharebeh the punishment for which is death and the court relied on their confession as the basis of its ruling even though they denied the charge, the judge was not authorized to sentence these two individuals to death.

Based on available reports, including the statements made by the defendants’ attorney, the case had serious defects. These legal defects were determined to be valid by the Supreme Courtm which had ordered that they be addressed and rectified. The case had therefore been referred to the Tehran Criminal Prosecutor’s Office and the Marivan Prosecutor’s Office several times. However, those defects were never obviated and redressed. Ultimately, the defendants were executed while the murder case was still pending and the adjudication process had not been completed. According to Mr. Moradi’s lawyer, without proof of the murder, the [veracity of] the story of Mr. Moradi’s contact with a foreigner and getting money and weapon from him was also in doubt. 

Judgment

On December 22, 2010, Tehran Genaral and Revolutionary Court Branch 15 sentenced Mr. Zanyar Moradi and his co-defendant to death by hanging in public. (Mehr News Agency, September 8, 2018). The court pronounced the death sentence citing “evidence existing in the case file, the defendants’ express confessions, and pursuant to Surah Ma’edah, Verse 33, and Islamic Penal Code Articles 183, 186, 189, 190, and 191”.(7) (Mehr News Agency, September 8, 2018). The sentence was not served on Mr. Moradi and he only found out through newspapers that he had been condemned to death a week later and while he was in Rajaishahr Prison. (HRANA, January 17, 2011).

Mr. Moradi’s death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court on February 1, 2011, and sent to the Sentence Implementation Section at Rajaishahr Prison. (Kurdistan Human Rights Organization, April 23, 2014). The sentence was delayed due to defects in the murder case so that said defects could be redressed. [However,] Mr. Zanyar Moradi and two other individuals, including his co-defendant, were executed in the morning of September 8, 2018 in the Evin Prison. (Tehran General and Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office website, September 8, 2018).

Three days before Mr. Moradi’s execution and prior to prisoner visitations with their families, telephone lines at all Rahjaishahr Prison’s wards were cut off; prisoners’ comings and goings inside the prison, including to the infirmary, were controlled. The open air area in the adjacent ward was closed off to prisoners as well. The day before the execution, first Mr. Zanyar Moradi, and then his cousin, Loqman Moradi, were called to the prison warden’s office. (Boroumand Center interview with a person who knew Mr. Moradi, September 8, 2018).

Mr. Moradi’s family was not informed of his burial place until the fortieth day of his death.

When Mr. Moradi’s family visited with him for the last time, prison officials had assured them that that “was just a regular visit”. On September 9, at 3 o’clock in the morning, the officials called Mr. Moradi’s family and his attorney to tell them to come to the prison. They had no news of Mr. Moradi’s situation until the afternoon of that day although they went to the prison and the prosecutor’s office repeatedly. The family and his lawyer learned of his execution through the publication of the news by Fars News Agency. (Boroumand Center interview with one of Mr. Moradi’s ward mates, September 10, 2018).

Upon Mr. Moradi’s family’s insistence and his attorney’s persistent follow-up, security and judiciary officials allowed his family to view his body at the Behest Zahra Cemetery mortuary, provided they did not take videos. The security agents present at the Cemetary also prohibited Mr. Moradi’s family from weeping loudly and screaming his loss. (HRANA, September 10, 2018). Mr. Moradi’s body was not delivered to his family after the execution and his family are not yet aware of where he has been buried until this time [fall 2018]. (HRKURD, October 19, 2018)

In a letter he published subsequent to Mr. Moradi’s execution, one of Mr. Moradi’s former ward mates described the prison atmosphere as “heavy” and “suffocating” after his passing. (HRANA, September 15, 2018).

According to Mr. Moradi himself, spending 8 years in jail knowing that he would ultimately be executed redoubled the torture and the agony he endured. (Boroumand Center weblog, letter to the United Nations Special Rapporteur, ***).

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1) United Nations news website (September 7, 2018), Fars News Agency (September 8, 2018, August 31, 2018), Iran newspaper (December 28, 2010), Kayhan newspaper (December 23, 2010), Mehr News Agency (November 8, 2011), Tasnim News Agency (September 10, 2018), Mostaghel newspaper (September 12, 2018), Amnesty International (September 8, 2018), HRANA News Agency (September 15, 2018, September 10, 2018, September 8, 2018, October 26, 2011, January 17, 2011), Rah-e Sabz Movement (Jaras) website (February 13, 2011), Kayhan London newspaper (October 23, 2016), Khabar Online (November 4, 2010), Kurdistan Human Rights Organization (April 23, 2013), Kordpa (November 13, 2013).
2) Principle 38 of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Constitution provide in this regard: “All forms of torture for the purpose of extracting confession or acquiring information are forbidden. Compulsion of individuals to testify, confess, or take an oath is not permissible; and any testimony, confession, or oath obtained under duress is devoid of value and credence. Violators of this article shall be punished in accordance with the law.”
3) Similar to the Constitution, the Law for Respecting Legitimate Freedoms and Safeguarding Citizens Rights, Paragraph 9 of 2004, provides: “All forms of torture of the defendant for the purpose of extracting confession or forcing him/her to do other acts are forbidden and confessions obtained in this way are devoid of legal and religious credence.”
4) Islamic Penal Code Article 169 of 2013 provides: “A confession obtained through coercion, duress, torture, or physical or psychological abuse, has no validity, and the court must investigate and question the accused once again.”
5) Article 578 of the Islamic Penal Code (Ta’zir Punishments section): “In the event that a judicial or non-judicial government employee or officer inflicts physical abuse upon an accused in order to force him/her to confess, in addition to Qesas or payment of Diah, as the case may require, such person shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of six months to three years; and in the event that a person has issued an order of abuse, only that person shall be sentenced to the aforementioned prison term; and if the accused dies because of the abuse, the principal shall be punished as a murderer and shall be sentenced to the punishment set for one who orders a murder to be carried out.”
6) Article 173 of the Islamic Penal Code: “The denial after confession shall not result in removal of the punishment except for confession to an offense which is punishable by stoning or by the Hadd punishment of death, in which case, at any stage, even during the execution, the aforementioned sentence shall be removed and, instead, one hundred lashes in the cases of Zena (adultery) and Lavat (sodomy), and a fifth degree ta’zir prison sentence shall be issued for other offenses.”
7) Translation of Surah Ma’edah, Verse 33: “Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment;
Article 183: “Testimony must be made with certainty and without a doubt in such a way that it is based on the person’s own senses and what is customary.”
Article 186: “If the witness cannot be present and has a valid excuse, his/her testimony shall be admissible if it is in writing or presented live or recorded in an audio-video format, provided the requirements and the veracity and correctness can be ascertained and it can be established that the testimony is attributable to [the witness].”
Article 189: “Offenses punishable by Hadd and Ta’zir may not be proven through hearsay testimony; however, Qisas, Diah, and financial liability may be proven by such hearsay testimony.”
Article 190: “In the event that the principal witness retracts his/her testimony subsequent to secondary witness(es) having presented their testimonies but before sentence is pronounced, the testimonies secondary witnesses shall be inadmissible; however, the denial shall have no effect once the sentence has been pronounced.”
Article 191: “A Shari’a witness’ credibility (a witness who meets the requirements under Shari’a law) can be attacked (Jarh) and/or supported (Ta’dil). Jarh of a witness consists of an individual testifying that the witness lacks the legal requirements for the admissibility of a witness under Shari’a law; Ta’dil of a witness consists of an individual testifying that the witness meets the aforementioned requirements for the admissibility of a witness under Shari’a law.

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