Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Nasrollah Farokhnia

About

Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Unknown

Case

Date of Killing: May 31, 2016
Location of Killing: Nowshahr Prison, Nowshahr, Mazandaran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Rape

About this Case

About a year after she had lodged her original complaint, the plaintiff submitted an official letter of acquiescence in which she retracted her complaint against Mr. Farokhnia and his co-defendants and denied any sexual acts having taken place.

News of Mr. Nasrollah Farokhnia and his co-defendant’s execution was published by HRANA News Agency and on the Iran Human Rights website (May 31, 2016). Additional information about this case was obtained from an interview conducted by the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center (ABC) with a person with knowledge of the case, an electronic form sent to ABC on March 09, 2021, and from evidence and documentation obtained by the Center’s research.

Mr. Nasrollah Farokhnia, child of Ali Akbar, was from the city of Chalus. (Documents available at the Boroumand Center).

Arrest and detention

Mr. Farokhnia was arrested in the summer of 2008, following a complaint by a woman who claimed he and his friends had kidnapped and [sexually] assaulted her. In the afternoon of June 18, 2008, on their way from Chalus to [the city of] Noshahr, Mr. Farokhnia and two of his friends gave a ride on their motorcycle to a student who had asked for their help. The girl had told them that the driver of a Peugeot 405 had picked her up as a passenger and had intended to rape her on the way. The next day, the girl went to Chalus Police and stated that Mr. Farokhnia and his friends had [sexually] assaulted her. Mr. Farokhnia spent approximately 6 years in Noshahr Central Prison. (Documentation available at the Boroumand Center).

Trial

Mazandaran Province Criminal Court, located in Chalus and composed of a panel of five judges, tried Mr. Farokhnia and the other defendants in the case in a single session on May 6, 2010.

Based on available information, a court-appointed attorney was designated for Mr. Farokhnia; however, since the plaintiff was not at the trial, the attorney did not have the opportunity to question her and mount a defense for the defendant. (Documentation available at the Boroumand Center).

Charges

The court declared the charge against Mr. Farokhnia as “forcible rape”. He was accused of “kidnapping, rape, and robbery of the plaintiff’s money and cell phone” based on the complaint.

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

Evidence of guilt

The Plaintiff’s testimony during preliminary investigations, and the defendant’s statements during interrogations, questioning by the investigating judge, and in court, were used as evidence against Mr. Farokhnia at trial. Furthermore, the Medical Examiner’s report alluding to “injuries suffered by the plaintiff” was also among the evidence used against him. Based on available documentation, it is not clear what the extent of the “injuries” was, what parts of the plaintiff’s body were affected, and what caused those injuries.

International human rights organizations have repeatedly condemned the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran for its systematic use of severe torture and solitary confinement to obtain confessions from detainees and have questioned the authenticity of confessions obtained under duress.

Defense

Based on available evidence, Mr. Farokhnia and the other defendants in the case stated that the plaintiff was present at the scene of her own free will. Furthermore, based on the plaintiff’s statements, available in the case file, she had been brought to the location in another vehicle.

The defendant was deprived of an attorney in the course of the adjudication and was designated a court-appointed attorney only in the trial session that resulted in his conviction and the issuance of a sentence. Even then, however, the plaintiff was not present so that the attorney could question her and thereby be able to defend his client.

On appeal, the Supreme Court did not heed the defendants’ attorneys’ request to summon the driver of the automobile that had brought the defendant to the scene of the crime, and announced that even if the driver could be found and summoned, “it would not alter and affect the course [and consequences] of the case”.

On June 18, 2009, that is, about a year after she had lodged her original complaint, the plaintiff submitted an official letter of acquiescence in which she retracted her complaint against Mr. Farokhnia and his co-defendants and denied any sexual acts having taken place. According to her statement, Mr. Farokhnia and the other two defendants intended to [sexually] assault her but she had been able to run away, and they had not been able to harm her, and no sexual acts had ever occurred. Because she had been mentally and emotionally harmed, the plaintiff stated that she intended to “get even” and that she had been advised that [the best way to that was to lodge a complaint and] the complaint was filed for that reason. (Documentation available at the Boroumand Center).

Given the denial of the occurrence of sexual acts by the plaintiff, it is not clear what the “injuries” alluded to in the Medical Examiner’s report, cited in the Supreme Court Decision, consisted of, and what parts of the body they encompassed.

A Summary of the Defects of Mr. Farokhnia's Legal Proceedings

In this case, it appears that the judges have not conducted the necessary investigations and have not taken certain existing evidence into consideration. On June 18, 2009, the plaintiff went to the court clerk and officially declared that that the defendants had no sexual relations with her and that her prior statements were completely false. Given that the Province Criminal Court issued its decision subsequent to the aforementioned admission, it seems clear that the judges had not taken her statement into consideration. Although there is no information regarding what the plaintiff said in court, if the trial court issued its decision and the Supreme Court upheld the same without conducting investigations into the plaintiff’s assertions denying sexual relations, then their rulings are most certainly unlawful.

According to the Supreme Court Branch Seven’s Decision, the defense attorneys had requested that the driver of the car who had driven the plaintiff [to the scene] be summoned, but neither the trial court nor the Supreme Court heeded that request, with the Supreme Court judges arguing that questioning said driver would have no bearing on the case and the principal issue. This action is in complete contradiction to the law, since the investigating and the adjudicating judges have the duty to conduct thorough investigations. To assert that questioning the aforementioned driver is of no consequence, is not an acceptable argument since, at the least, his statements could indicate the extent to which the plaintiff was honest in her own statements.

Another defect in this case is the defendant’s considerable limited access to an attorney. Based on available information, the defendant only met his attorney in court. The attorney was a court-appointed one who had not been present at any of the preliminary investigations phases. Pursuant to Iranian law, a defendant is entitled to have an attorney present at all stages of the adjudication. [The lack of access to an attorney] was in complete contravention of the law, since in cases of forcible rape, the presence of an attorney to defend the accused is mandatory. Pursuant to the Law on the Rules of Criminal Procedure in General and Revolutionary Courts, Article 186, Note 2, “If in crimes for which the law has mandated the punishments of Qesas of life, execution, stoning, and life imprisonment, the defendant does not personally introduce an attorney, it is mandatory that a court-appointed attorney be designated.” In spite of differences of opinion regarding this Note, the absence of an attorney was one reason why there was no fair trial in this case. The defendant stated that when the judge asked him if the “reprehensible act” had taken place, he had answered in the affirmative because he did not know the meaning of the word “dobor” (“anus” for purposes of Islamic jurisprudence). Certainly, had he had access to the services of an attorney, he would not have made such a mistake.

Judgment

On June 2, 2010, Mazandaran Province Criminal Court sentenced Mr. Nasrollah Farokhnia to death (Hadd punishment for murder), pursuant to Islamic Penal Code* Articles 12, 13, 43, 63, 64, 67, 68, 69, 70, and 83, based on the Judge’s Knowledge. On February 15, 2011, Supreme Court Branch Seven upheld the sentence. In the morning of May 31, 2016, Mr. Nasrollah Farokhnia and his co-defendant were hanged at Noshahr Central Prison.

Mr. Nasrollah Farokhnia's body was buried in the new cemetery of Eshkardasht in Chalus and his uneral services and the other defendant in the case were held in the afternoon of Wednesday, June 1, 2016, at Amir-ol-Mo’menin Mosque in Chalus’ Eshkardasht region.

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*Islamic Penal Code of 2013. The following are the Articles alluded to in the present text and one other Article referred to therein:
Article 12: Imposition of a punishment or security and correctional measures and implementation thereof, shall be done by a competent court, in accordance with the law, observing the conditions and requirements contained therein.
Article 13: The levels and conditions of a punishment or security and correctional measures and implementation thereof, shall not exceed the limits and conditions specified in the law or the court ruling; any injury or damage resulting therefrom, whether caused deliberately or negligently, shall result in criminal and civil liability, as the case may require; otherwise, the damage shall be compensated by the state treasury.
Article 43: Under a supervised suspension, the court may, given the nature of the offense, the personal characteristics of the offender, and the conditions of his/her life, order the offender to perform one or more of the following tasks during the period of suspension, in such a way as not to fundamentally and significantly disrupt his/her life and his/her family’s life:
a. To learn a trade or hold a particular occupation
b. To reside or not reside in a particular location
c. To obtain treatment for an illness or kick an addiction
d. To pay nafaqa (alimony and/or child support) to those required by law
e. To refrain from operating all or certain motor vehicles
f. To refrain from any professional activity related to the offense or utilize the means of the offense
g. To refrain from contacting and associating with accomplices and accessories to the crime or other persons such as the victim of the crime, at the court’s discretion
h. To undergo special course(s) for training and learning basic life skills or participate in training, moral, religious, educational or athletic courses.
Article 63: The executive guidelines regarding partial release and conditional release shall be drafted by the Prisons and Security and Correctional Measures Organization and ratified by the Head of Judiciary within six months of the coming into force of the present law.
Article 64: Substitute punishments for imprisonment consist of a supervisory period, providing free public services, monetary penalty, daily fine, and deprivation of social rights, which shall be determined and implemented in the event of the plaintiff withdrawing his/her complaint and existence of mitigating factors taking into account the nature of the offense and the circumstances of its commission, the consequences of the crime, the convict’s age, skills, conditions, character and criminal record, as well as the victim’s conditions, and other circumstances.
Note. In its sentence, the court shall specify the compatibility and proportionality of such sentence with the requirements and conditions provided in this article. The court cannot issue more than two of the substitute punishments.
Article 66: Perpetrators of intentional offenses, the maximum legal sentence for which is ninety-one days to six months imprisonment, shall be sentenced to substitute punishments for imprisonment unless they have a criminal record for commission of intentional crimes within the previous five years, as follows:
(a)   More than one account of final conviction to up to six months imprisonment or a fine of more than ten million (10,000,000) Rials or Ta’zir flogging;
(b)   One count of final conviction to more than six months imprisonment, Hadd punishment, or Qesas punishment, or to payment of more than one fifth of [a full] Diya (“blood money”).
Article 67: The court may sentence perpetrators of intentional crimes the maximum legal punishment for which is six months to one year imprisonment, to substitute punishments; in the event of the existence of the conditions provided for in Article 66 of the present law, however, issuance of substitute punishments for imprisonment shall be prohibited.
Article 68: Perpetrators of unintentional crimes shall be sentenced to substitute punishments for imprisonment unless the legal punishment prescribed for the crime is more than two years imprisonment, in which case issuing a substitute punishment for imprisonment is discretionary.
Article 69: Perpetrators of crimes for which no type or level of Ta’zir punishment has been prescribed by law, shall be sentenced to substitute punishments for imprisonment.
Article 70: While issuing a substitute punishment, the court shall also specify the commensurate term of imprisonment, to be implemented in the event of impossibility of implementation of the substitute punishment, violation of court orders by the criminal, inability to pay the monetary penalty.
Article 83: The supervisory period is the period during which the criminal, by order of the court and under the supervision of the sentence implementation judge, shall be ordered to perform one or more of the orders prescribed for supervisory suspension [above], as follows:
a. For crimes that carry a maximum legal punishment of three months’ imprisonment, up to six months;
b. For crimes that carry a legal punishment of ninety one days to six months imprisonment, as well as crimes for which no type or level of Ta’zir punishment has been prescribed by law, from six months to one year;
c. For crimes that carry a legal punishment of more than six months to one year imprisonment, from one to two years;
d. For unintentional crimes that carry a legal punishment of more than one year imprisonment, from two to four years.
Article 105: The Statute of Limitations applies to crimes subject to Ta’zir punishments only if prosecution has not commenced from the date of the commission of the crime until the following deadlines, or if no final ruling has been issued since the last prosecutorial or investigative action was initiated until the following deadlines:
a. First to third degree Ta’zir offense, upon passage of fifteen years
b. Fourth degree Ta’zir offense, upon passage of ten years
c. Fifth degree Ta’zir offense, upon passage of seven years
d. Sixth degree Ta’zir offenses, upon passage of five years
e. Seventh and eighth degree Ta’zir offenses, upon passage of three years
Note 1. A prosecutorial or investigative action is an action taken by judicial authorities in performing a legal duty such as summoning, arresting, interrogating, hearing eyewitness testimony and the testimony of persons with knowledge of the case, carrying out field or crime scene investigations or relegating judicial authority.
Note 2. Regarding issuance of a Conditional Injunction, the statute of limitations begins to toll from the date a final decision is rendered by the authority upon whose decision criminal adjudication is conditioned upon.

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