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

Abolfazl Chazani Sharahi


Age: 18
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam (Shi'a)
Civil Status: Single


Date of Execution: June 27, 2018
Location: Central Prison, Qom, Markazi Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Murder
Age at time of offense: 14

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 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 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.

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.

  • The right of a person not to be subjected to the capital punishment for an offence committed before the age of eighteen. The right not to be deprived of life while pregnant.

ICCPR, Article 6.5; Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 37.a.

About this Case

He was only 15 when he got involved in a brawl. He used to comfort his mother: Mum, don’t be scarred. Nothing will happen to me.

News of Mr. Abolfazl Chazani Sharahi’s execution was published on the Jam’iat-e Imam Ali Facebook page on June 27, 2018. Additional information about this case was obtained from an Abdorrahman Boroumand Center interview with a person close to him and from the Center’s own research (July 7, 2018), Ghanoon News Website (July 8, 2018), Amnesty International website (January 19, 2018), and a European Union statement (June 27, 2018).

Mr. Abolfazl Chazani Sharahi, child of Asghar and Simin, was born on January 16, 1999, in the city of Qom. According to a person close to him, he was a child with a small and weak build and was mostly ill until the age of seven. He would mostly play soccer at school or go the Atari club. Mr. Chazani was a compassionate child, with a lot of love; he was also very determined and just had to work when there was a public gathering. For instance, on the occasion of the Middle of Sha’ban (the Twelfth Shi’a Imam’s birthday), he would decorate the entire alley way with paper and strings. He loved Imam Hossein Ta’zieh ([annual] mourning ceremonies set to music for the fourth Shi’a Imam). (Boroumand Center interview).

Mr. Chazani was born into a poor family that lived on the outskirts of the city of Qom, and had four brothers. He stayed in school until seventh grade and subsequently started to work at a Sohan (a type of hard candy for which Qom is famous) making shop. He would give his daily earnings to his mother every night when he came home from work. (Boroumand Center interview and Ghanoon News Website).

Mr. Chazani’s case is related to a murder that occurred in a street fight in Qom. He was 14 at the time of the event.

Amnesty International demanded that the execution be halted. (Amnesty International Urgent Action, January 19, 2018). Noting Iran’s international obligations, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the European Union also objected to the implementation of this juvenile criminal’s execution. (European Union Statement, June 27, 2018).

Arrest and detention

On the night of December 26, 2013, police officers went to Mr. Chazani’s home to arrest him but he was not there. He went to the police precinct with his father when he came home that same night and gave himself up. That night, a fight had broken at 8:30 PM between several youths, one of whom had been stabbed. Mr. Chazani had fled the scene out of fear, and the injured individual died at the hospital a few days later. (Boroumand Center interview and the Court Decision, available at the Boroumand Center).

Mr. Chazani spent four years and six months at the city of Qom’s Kanun-e Eslah va Tarbiat (“Reform and Education Center”). According to a source with knowledge of the case, with his extroverted personality and sociable demeanor, he soon drew a lot of attention in prison. He was well-groomed and religious, and committed [to religious practice]; he did his prayers and fasts. He quickly became the ward representative and tended to the prisoners’ affairs. The Reform and Education Center had issued him a “good character” letter. According to a published report, he had not engaged in a single fight in prison. (Ghanoon News Website). According the source with knowledge of the case, he had changed a lot in prison and had actually matured. (Boroumand Center interview).

Based on available information, during his incarceration, Mr. Chazani was called on four times for the implementation of his sentence. According to a person close to him, he was taken to quarantine when he was 15 (so that the sentence could be carried out) where he spent the night with several other prisoners; he was taken back to the Reform and Education Center the next day after the others were executed. The second and third times were when he was 16: The second time, he was taken to quarantine by himself where he spent the night alone, and the third time he was with several others who were subsequently executed. (Boroumand Center interview).


Mr. Chazani’s trial took place on July 16, 2014, at Qom Province Criminal Court, Branch One, in the presence of the Prosecutor’s representative, the plaintiffs, the defendant, along with his court-appointed lawyer. The prosecutor’s representative asked that the defendant be punished and the victim’s next of kin demanded Qesas. On July 20, 2014, Mr. Chazani’s attorney submitted his brief in defense of his client to the Court.


The Court charged Mr. Abolfazl Chazani with “intentional murder”. He was accused of having murdered a 20-year-old man in a street fight when he was 14 (three weeks before turning 15).

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

Mr. Chazani’s statements at various phases of adjudication, including at trial, the Medical Examiner’s report attesting to his full mental development and maturity, and witness statements, were among evidence presented against the defendant.

According to the Court Decision, Mr. Chazani had stated at his last trial session: “It was R. H. who was in a fight and I got involved; but R. didn’t tell me to stab the murder victim, I did that on my own. I did not intend to stab him.” He had also said in court: “R. H. had already gotten into a fight with the murder victim. Then I took part in the fight. I took the knife from my house and wrapped it around my waist. When M. (the murder victim) and R. started to fight, I went in too. I took the knife from my belt and stabbed him once in the chest. Then R. made me flee. He was on the scene but did not get himself involved. He tried to separate us.” At his last defense, Mr. Chazani accepted the facts of the case at the scene reconstruction, and, emphasizing his young age at the time of the event, stated: “I accepted the charge, but I did not intend to kill the victim. I beg for forgiveness.” (Court Decision, 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.


Mr. Chazani declared in court that he did not intend to kill the murder victim. He expressed remorse and asked the next of kin and the court for forgiveness. Mr. Chazani had not reached the age of maturity at the time of the commission of the crime and did not possess the faculty of discerning Islamic rules and what was allowed and what was forbidden from a religious standpoint. (Court Decision, available at the Boroumand Center).

Based on available information, Mr. Chazani’s court-appointed attorney asked that his client be examined [by a professional] to determine the level of his mental maturity. (Court Decision, available at the Boroumand Center).

Based on available information, Mr. Chazani was repeatedly interrogated without his parents and his attorney being present, and was forced to make incriminating confessions. His statements were contradictory at different stages of the investigation; in spite of that fact, however, his case was adjudicated in a hasty manner. (Documents available at the Boroumand Center). According to a person close to him, the prosecutor’s office and the court did not conduct sufficient investigations about the role of Mr. Chezani’s friend who was with him at the fight. Mr. Chazani’s 19-year-old friend who accompanied him at the fight was also arrested. Prior to the victim’s death [at the hospital], he had told Mr. Chazani while they were both in detention: “Say you stabbed him; I’ll get you out.” Mr. Chazani, who wasn’t even 15 years old, obeyed and accepted the charges. Ten days later, however, the stab victim died at the hospital. According to a person close to Mr. Chazani, he was so small at the time of the incident that they had just bought him pants with a belt (officially a belt) for the first time. (Boroumand Center interview).

In the memorandum dated August 26, 2015, when Mr. Chazani had been taken to be executed for the first time, Sentence Implementation Bureau, Branch One, stated that the defendant had not reached the age of 15 at the time of commission of the crime and that the Medical Examiner’s Office did not have any physicians specialized in juvenile cases on hand when the defendant’s mental condition was being assessed, and that the trial had been conducted in haste. (Documents available at the Boroumand Center).

According to an affidavit by the people in Mr. Chazani’s neighborhood, he did not have any history of fighting and altercations. (Ghanoon News Website). According to a person close to Mr. Chazani, his family had gone everywhere to follow up on his case, from the Qom Prosecutor’s Office to the Tehran Prosecutor’s Office, to the State Prosecutor General’s Office. According to this person, the victim had severely beaten Mr. Chazani in the first group altercation. Influenced by his friend, who had instigated him to continue the fight, Mr. Chazani, who was a small-framed child, had returned to the scene of the fight accompanied by his friend. This time, encouraged by his friend, he had gotten into an altercation with seven people and had stabbed one of them in self-defense. (Boroumand Center interview).

According to Mr. Chazani’s brother, the fight between the murder victim and Abolfazl’s friend had been going on for two weeks prior to the incident. On the day of the event, his friend had gone to get another person and when he hadn’t found him in the alley way, had taken Abolfazl along on his motorcycle, otherwise Abolfazl  did not even know how to ride a bike. According to Mr. Chazani’s statements, there were guys who had witnessed the whole thing but the court did not allow them to testify at trial. Furthermore, Mr. Chazani’s family intended to bring a complaint against Abolfazl’s friend as a co-conspirator, and went to court accompanied by the neighborhood elders, but the court did not allow that. (Ghanoon News Website).

A Summary of the Legal Defects in Mr. Chazani’s Case

Abolfazl Chazani was under 15 solar years of age at the time of the commission of the murder; since the age of criminal responsibility in Iranian criminal law is calculated based on lunar years, however, he was considered to be of legal age and hence criminally responsible. Although the age of criminal responsibility in Iranian law is the age of full maturity and Abolfazl was considered legally mature, a change was made to the Islamic Penal Code in 2013 whereby juvenile criminals under the age of 18 are given the opportunity to escape the death penalty. Pursuant to Article 91 of said law, “In crimes requiring Hadd or Qesas, if the individuals under the age of 18 who have attained puberty cannot comprehend the nature of the crime or the prohibition thereof, or if there is doubt as to their mental development [and capacity] and maturity, they will be sentenced to the punishments prescribed in this chapter on a case by case basis. In order to ascertain mental development and maturity, the court may obtain the medical examiner’s opinion, or utilize any other method it deems appropriate.” In the present case, judiciary officials did inquire with the Medical examiner’s Office regarding the defendant’s mental state [for purposes of Article 91] and the Medical examiner confirmed his maturity. However, according to the Supreme Court Branch 24’s Assistant Investigating Judge, whose opinion is written in the Court’s Decision, although the defendant had reached puberty from a religious standpoint, his mental maturity was in doubt. In his opinion, the Assistant Judge argued that the defendant was dispatched to the Medical Examiner’s Office a year after the murder, and examinations and tests conducted at that point in time were no indication of maturity at the time of the commission of the crime. The Assistant Investigating Judge therefore asked the Supreme Court to overturn the trial court’s decision on that basis, which request was denied by the Branch Judges. Subsequent to the upholding of the lower court decision and the issuance of a final order, it was the prosecutor’s office’s sentence implementation bureau’s turn to state that the Medical Examiner’s Office did not have a pediatrician at the time the defendant’s case was being investigated. Aside from that, it can generally be said that it would be very hard for a 15 year old person to understand the nature of his/her actions as well as an adult would. However, even though there was a legal possibility for Abolfazl not to be executed, judiciary officials did not consider that the rule applied in his case.


On September 17, 2014, Qom Province Criminal Court, Branch One sentenced Mr. Abolfazl Chazani Sharahi to death (Qesas of life). On November 26, 2014, Supreme Court Branch 24 upheld the ruling and the decision was confirmed by the Head of the Judiciary. On Wednesday, August 19, 2015, Qom General and Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office made preparations for Qesas to be carried out but the implementation process was halted by the Sentence Implementation Bureau, Branch One. On October 25, 2015, Supreme Court Branch 33 denied the request for a new trial and the Branch upheld the defendant’s death sentence once again. (Documents available at the Boroumand Center).

Mr. Abolfazl Chazani was hanged at Qom Central Prison (Langrud Prison) on June 27, 2018. The murder victim’s father personally pulled the stool from under the defendant’s feet and carried out the sentence of Qesas himself. (Ghanoon News Website).

According to Mr. Chazani’s brother, his case was still in the adjudication stage, and had they allowed the process to reach its conclusion, perhaps he would not have been executed; and even if they had kept the case open, there was a possibility that the plaintiff’s family would forgive him. They could have delayed this haste in hanging him. (Ghanoon News Website).

Right up to the time of his execution, Mr. Chazani was hopeful he would be saved; he had told his mother the previous day: “Don’t worry, nothing will happen!” When the prison social worker brought him a Koran the night before his execution, Mr. Chazani had laughed and said: “They won’t kill me, I will be forgiven.” (Ghanoon News Website).

According to a person close to him, Mr. Chazani’s family stated after his hanging: “We died with him. Abolfazl did not deserve to be executed; we would have been fine had he been sentenced to life in prison, but executing a 14-year-old child is simply inhuman.” (Boroumand Center interview).

Correct/ Complete This Entry