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

Ramin Hossein Panahi

About

Age: 25
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam (Sunni)
Civil Status: Unknown

Case

Date of Execution: September 8, 2018
Location: Evin Prison, Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: War on God, God's Prophet and the deputy of the Twelfth Imam
Age at time of offense: 24

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 not to be punished for any crime on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offence, under national or international law, at the time it was committed.

UDHR, Article 11.2; ICCPR, Article 15, Article 6.2.

  • 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 freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of one’s interests.

UDHR, Article 20; ICCPR, Article 22.1.

  • 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.

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.

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About this Case

a civil and political activist who was arrested by the Information Ministry agents at the age of 16, and was tortured in order to get him to cooperate with them.

News of the execution of Mr. Ramin Hossein Panahi and two other individuals was published by the Tehran General and Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office website and IRNA news agency on September 8, 2018. Additional information about this case was obtained from The Boroumand Center Newsletter (March 16, 2018), the Boroumand Center’ published interview with a person with knowledge of the case (August 30, 2018), the Boroumand Center interview with Hossein Ahmadi Niaz, his attorney (October 10 and 18, 2018), interview with a person with knowledge of the case (August 30, 2018), ISNA news agency (May 22, 2018, June 10 and 13, 2018, August 19 and 25, 2018), IRNA news agency (May 3, 2018), Mizan news agency (August 28, 2018), The Young Reporters Club (June 26, 2018), Komeleh Party of Kurdistan website (July 17, 2017), ROJ news and analysis website (June 23, 2017), Deutsche Welle (June 2, 2018), and Amnesty International website (September 8, 2018).

Mr. Ramin Hossein Panahi, child of Sharifeh and Mohammad Mirza, was 24 years old. He was born into a crowded, poor, working class family in the town of Dehgolan’s Qaruchai village in Kurdistan Province where he obtained his high school diploma. Mr. Hossein Panahi had 3 sisters and 5 brothers. His family was active in providing help to other people, saving their lives. (Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney, October 10, 2018).

According to his brother, Mr. Hossein Panahi was a civil and political activist who was arrested by the Information Ministry agents at the age of 16, and was tortured in order to get him to cooperate with them. After he completed his education, Mr. Hossein Panahi was persecuted and threatened by the Dehgolan and Qorveh Information Ministry agents, and he was forced to flee the country to Iraqi Kurdistan. He was a freedom-seeking, peace-loving young man with great ideals. He believed in humanity, peoples’ welfare, equality, and women’s rights. He was a member of the Kurdistan Komeleh Party. He was traveling from Iraqi Kurdistan to the city of Sanandaj to visit with his father and sick mother. (Boroumand Center Newsletter, March 16, 2018).

One of Mr. Hossein Panahi’s brother’s named Anvar, had previously been sentenced to death, his sentence subsequently overturned. One of his brothers is in jail, another brother died in a suspicious car accident, and two brothers have been forced to leave the country. (Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney, October 10, 2018).

Several remaining members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran established the Revolutionary Organization of this party in Iraq in the mid-1960’s. Esma’il Sharifzadeh, Abdollah Mo’ini, and Molaavareh were among the leaders of this organization who, inspired by the Cuban Revolution, began an armed guerrilla struggle in Kurdistan. When this group was defeated in 1969 and several of its members were arrested, armed struggle was criticized and the Maoist trend overcomes. When some of its leaders were released in 1978, the Revolutionary Organization of Working People in Kurdistan – Komala was established. Based on Marxist theory, Komala was against the capitalists and landlords and encouraged workers and peasants in Kurdistan to an armed uprising against them and the central government. This organization considered the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran (PDKI) as the rich party and campaigned against it, resulting in several armed conflicts and hundreds dead. In 1982, Komala joined another Marxist group, Sahand, which was basically a theoretical group, and established the Communist Party of Iran, calling itself the Kurdistan “Organization of the Communist Party of Iran – Komala”. By the mid-1980’s, the central government was able to push Komala Pesmerga Forces from Kurdistan into Northern Iraq. In subsequent years, this organization separated from the Communist Party of Iran and faced several other schisms. Currently, a number of different groups use the name Komala.

According to available information, Mr. Hossein Ahmadi Niazi, Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney, was arrested because he was doing his job of defending his client. He was arrested for writing a communique in response to the Kurdistan Province Judiciary’s bulletin regarding Mr. Hossein Panahi, and was released on a 200-million-Tuman bail. (Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney, October 18, 2018).

Several international human rights organizations issued announcements and bulletins demanding a stay of the death sentence and a fair trial for Mr. Hossein Panahi; they subsequently protested and strongly condemned his execution in further announcements. (Boroumand Center, March 16, 2018, Deutsche Welle, June 2, 2018, and Amnesty International, September 8, 2018).

Arrest and detention

On Friday, June 23, 2017, Mr. Hossein Panahi was injured and arrested by Revolutionary Guards forces in the outskirts of the city of Sanandaj. Three other individuals who were with him were killed in the incident. According to available information, no one had any information or any knowledge of Mr. Hossein Panahi’s whereabouts for four months. (HRANA, January 9, 2018).

According to available information, Mr. Hossein Panahi was unconscious at the time of his arrest and was immediately taken to Be’sat Hospital in Sanandaj for medical attention. Immediately after surgery, he was taken to solitary confinement and subjected to interrogation in that same physical state. He spent close to 180 days at the Revolutionary Guards detention center, and was then transferred to Sanandaj Informatin Administration detention center pursuant to a court order. Mr. Hossein Panahi had a court-appointed attorney; however, based on available information, his attorney was not invited to and was not present at any of the interrogation sessions at either the Revolutionary Guards or the Information Ministry detention centers, and his statements were taken in the absence of his attorney. (HRANA, May 5, 2018). His family had no knowledge of his whereabouts the entire time. According to his family, one of Mr. Hossein Panahi’s kidneys became severely infected during his detention. (Boroumand Center Newsletter, March 16, 2018). Mr. Hossein Panahi had been forced to confess under torture that he was armed [at the time of the incident]. According to his attorney, he had secretly been videotaped while undergoing interrogations. (Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney, October 18, 2018).

He was injured and unconscious at the time of his arrest, and was taken to a solitary confinement cell after surgery.

After his case was referred to Sanandaj Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office, he was transferred to Sanandaj Priosn on January 9, 2018. (HRANA, January 9, 2018). He visited with his mother there. According to one of his attorneys, Mr. Hossein Panahi was allowed weekly visitations with herat the Sanandaj Prison. According to his attorney, Mr. Hossein Panahi “was never worried about the implementation of his death sentence. He was only upset that the Islamic Republic had brabded [and treated] him as a terrorist.” (Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney, October 10, 2018).

On August 17, 2018, Mr. Hossein Panahi was suddenly transferred to Rajaishahr Prison in Alborz Province without prior notice, and all visitations and phone contacts with his family were cut off. He was kept at Ward 10, Hall 31 at this prison, where prisoners who had committed various crimes were being kept, and he had no contact with the outside world. On August 26, 2018, protesting his illegal transfer to Rajaishahr Prison, the Judiciary’s inattention to his request for a new trial, and the mixing of prisoners without regard for the nature of their crimes, Mr. Hossein Panahi went on a hunger strike and sewed his lips shut. Instead of considering his requests, the authorities took Mr. Hossein Panahi to solitary confinement, a place other than the Prison’s quarantine and its known solitary confinement cells. Mr. Hossein Panahi was on a hunger strike until the time of his execution. He visited with his mother for the last time on September 4, 2018, at Rajaishahr Prison, but they were not told that this would be the last visitation. (Boroumand Center interview with a person with knowledge of the case, August 30, 2018).

According to Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney, on September 7, 2018, judicial authorities transferred him from Rajaishahr Prison in Alborz Province to Evin Prison, along with two other prisoners. (Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney, October 18, 2018).

Trial

On January 15, 2018, Sanandaj Islamic Revolutionary Court Branch One tried Mr. Hossein Panahi in a closed door session. The trial started at 9 o’clock in the morning and lasted for three hours, and was attended by the prosecutor, the Information Ministry representative, and the defendant’s court-appointed lawyer. In spite of Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney’s insistence, Mr. Hossein Panahi’s family, who were sitting behind the court’s closed doors, were not allowed to attend the trial. (Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney, October 18, 2018).

Charges

The Court accused Mr. Hossien Panahi of being Baghi (“armed uprising against the reigning Imam”). According to the Tehran General and Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office’s communique, he “entered the country with a military team in order to conduct subversive activities, and when officers became suspicious of said team at the stop and search station at the entrance to the city of Sanandaj, Ramin Hossein Panahi and his cohorts proceeded to throw hand grenades and fire toward the officers.” According to said communique, Sanandaj Prosecutor’s Office Investigating Judge explained the charges of “Moharebeh” (“waging war against God”), membership in groups enemies of the Regime, and transporting war ammunition” to Mr. Hossein Panahi. (Tehran General and Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office, September 8, 2018).

Evidence of guilt

According to the Tehran General and Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office’s communique, Mr. Hossein Panahi confessed that he had entered the country armed with weapons and intended to conduct operations inside the territory. He also admitted that he had fired a 30-bullet magazine at the officers. (Tehran General and Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office, September 8, 2018). According to the report published by the Judiciary Branch news agency, “two Kalashnikov rifles, fourteen empty magazines, 243 Kalashnikov cartridges, two hand gun magazines and 28 war cartridges, one pistol, one advanced binoculars/camera with photography and videotaping capabilities, one smart phone and 2 regular cell phones, two cartridge cases, and some organizational documents” were recovered and confiscated from the group Mr. Hossein Panahi was accompanying. (Mizan news agency, August 28, 2018).

Defense

Based on available information, Mr. Hossein Panahi denied all the charges. The authorities denied him his right to a defense and interrogated him as he was wounded, without providing him medical treatment. Mr. Hossein Panahi was deprived of access to his chosen attorney for eight months, and although the Investigative judge had designated a court-appointed lawyer for him, said lawyer was not allowed to attend the interrogation sessions conducted by the Revolutionary Guards and the Information Ministry; ultimately, Mr. Hossein Panahi was tried behind closed doors.

Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney of choice said his client was innocent: “The defendant had a court-appointed lawyer from among lawyers approved by the Judiciary Branch pursuant to the Note to Article 48; that lawyer did not, however, attend any of the interrogation sessions conducted by the Revolutionary Guards and the Information Ministry; he had not even been invited to attend the sessions. Mr. Hossein Panahi’s statements before these two organs were taken in the absence of an attorney in spite of the Law for Criminal Procedure Articles 5 and 6’s requirements.” Mr. Hossein Panahi’s chosen attorney further stated that the only thing the court-appointed lawyer had done in defending him was “write a letter asking for forgiveness and a pardon, something that was repeatedly alluded to in the trial court ruling as well as the Supreme Court Decision.” (Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney, October 10 and 18, 2018, HRANA, May 5, 2018).

According to his attorney, Mr. Hossein Panahi denied all the charges and stated that the confessions obtain during interrogations were given under torture. Mr. Hossein Panahi was not allowed a final defense. After the defendant declared that he had been tortured during interrogations, the judges started asking him questions that had been asked while he was in detention. Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney objected to the court’s procedure and said: “This tribunal is unacceptable. You’re not an interrogator, you’re a judge! Your job is to arbitrate between us and the interrogators, and ascertain who is right, not to prove my client’s guilt. You’re a judge and you’re independent!” This objection was rejected by the court, however, and the trial continued even though the defendant was to be dispatched to the Medical Examiner’s Office and the trial delayed.” (Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney, October 10 and 18, 2018).

Based on available information, Mr. Hossein Panahi claimed in court and before the judges that he had been tortured and that the signs of torture were still visible on his body after the passage of months. He offered and requested to show his injuries to the judges in order to prove his claim. His attorney entered the request in the record of the proceedings, and asked that said claim be examined before a substantive consideration of the charges was to go forward; the request was disregarded. Citing Principle 38 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran which provides “It is prohibited to torture an individual in order to extract a confession or information,” Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney stressed the point in open court that a confession obtained under torture is invalid and has no credence. According to Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney, exerting pressure (whether physical or psychological) on the defendant in order to force him to say what the interrogator wants him to say, as well as keeping the defendant in solitary confinement for more than 200 days in spite of illness and injuries, are prime instances of torture. (Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney’s statement in response to the Kurdistan Province Judiciary’s claim, May 5, 2018).

Pursuant to Iranian law, including Principle 38 of the Constitution, torture is prohibited and is also considered to be a crime under the Penal Code. Any confession obtained through torture is null and void. (Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney, October 10, 2018).

Based on available information, citing Principle 34 of the Constitution, Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney stated that his client’s trial was not fair and that the court did not have jurisdiction over the matter. In his opinion, first, pursuant to Islamic Penal Code Article 287, “Baghi” occurs when a group conducts armed operations, and members of a group are considered Baghi when they play an effective role in that group. Mr. Hossein Panahi, according to the case file and his own statements, had returned to the region for the sole purpose of visiting his parents and never intended to conduct terrorist activities, and the claim of terrorism was an absolute lie. Furthermore, the plaintiff had not presented any evidence to that effect and Mr. Hossein Panahi did not use a weapon even when he and his companions were being shot at. Secondly, Baghi means objection to the functioning of the government or the ruling Imam, that is, there is government opposed to the defendant; trial could be fair only if the court were independent. How could a trial be independent, fair, and just when the law enforcement agents of the Revolutionary Guards and the Information Ministry are not only part of the government but are also plaintiffs, and the Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office and the Revolutionary Court are also part of the government as well and responsible by law to defend the Islamic Revolution? According to Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney, the trial should have been postponed but it wasn’t, and the ruling was issued immediately. (Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney, October 18, 2018; Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney’s statement, HRANA, May 5, 2018). Also, according to Mr. Hossein Panahi’s brother, he was not even allowed to speak in court and his lawyer was not allowed to defend him properly. The trial was supposed to take place over several sessions but it was over in one session and the sentence of death was issued 10 days later. (Boroumand Center Newsletter, March 16, 2018).

The only action the court-appointed attorney (one that was approved by the Judiciary Branch) took in defending this defendant was “to write a letter asking for forgiveness and a pardon, which was repeatedly alluded to in the trial court ruling as well as in the Supreme Court Decision.”

Emphasizing the principle that the punishment must be proportionate to the crime, Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney stated: “According to Iranian law, membership alone in the Komeleh Party and promoting the same, cannot carry the death penalty and the punishment is only imprisonment.” He also said: “My client was never armed, and when they entered the country, he [and his companions] were being watched by the Revolutionary Guards, who were lying in wait and ambushed them in the vicinity of the city of Sanandaj. According to the Kurdistan Judiciary’s bulletin, three of Ramin’s companions were immediately killed, and Ramin, who was in the back seat of a Pride automobile, was immediately wounded and lost consciousness; no one can resort to a weapon when they are unconscious. Also, according to the Revolutionary Guards’ official announcement and its news, not a single one of the Guardsmen suffered even a superficial injury, which shows that, first, this was not a skirmish but an ambush by the Revolutionary Guards, and second, Ramin had no weapon, let alone firing one.” (Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney’s statement, HRANA, May 5, 2018).

In a message to international activists issued in detention while he was visiting with his mother, Mr. Hossein Panahi declared that he was a political activist and an example of young Iranian Kurds who had engaged in civil activism and had been forced to leave Iran, and that he had returned to the country solely for the purpose of seeing his elderly mother. He emphasized that he did not recognize [the legality of] the proceedings. (Boroumand Center Newsletter, March 16, 2018; Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney, October 10, 2018).

Mr. Hossein Panahi was deprived of his right to an attorney in the course of investigations and gathering of evidence in the case. Underscoring the information and security apparatus’ pressure on the court, Mr. Hossein Panahi’s lawyer stated: “I asked Ramin in open court, in front the Information Ministry representative and the Prosecutor’s representative: ‘Do you have an issue [that you wish to talk about]?’ He said ‘Yes, I was tortured.’ ‘Where?’ I asked. ‘Here,’ he said, ‘look,’ and he showed the marks on his body. I said ‘Your Honor, in accordance with current criminal procedure laws, I ask that it be stated in the record that my client has been tortured.’” Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney asked that the people who had ordered the torture of his client, as well as the perpetrators of the torture be prosecuted, and that Mr. Hossein Panahi be referred to the Medical Examiner’s Office [for a medical examination], but the court disregarded the request. (Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney, October 10, 2018).

Mr. Hossein Panahi spent eight months in solitary confinement, which, according to his lawyer, is a prime example of torture. According to Mr. Hossin Panahi’s attorney, pursuant to Articles 4, 6, and 7 of the Law on the Rules of Criminal Procedure, a defendant must have immediate access to his/her lawyer after an arrest, must immediately be apprised of the charges and these charges must be explained to him/her, and must immediately be able to inform his/her family of the situation; but such procedure was not implemented in his case as it is done in the case of other political and security-related defendants. (Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney, October 10, 2018).

According to Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney, at the Prosecutor’s Office, the Investigating Judge had shown him a National Security High Council directive whereby those accused of political and security-related crimes are to be tortured in order to obtain a confession. According to him, the issuance of a sentence of Baghi was based on that same directive. (Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney, October 18, 2018).

According to Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney, adjudicating “Baghi” cases (which means objecting to the functioning of a government and is a political charge, pursuant to Islamic Penal Code Article 287), must be done in proceedings open to the public and in the presence of a jury, pursuant to Principle 168 of the Constitution; that never happened. (Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney, October 18, 2018).

According to Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney, upon his request for a new trial, the case was referred to Supreme Court Branch 38, but that Branch rejected the request without even taking possession of the original case file. The second request for a new trial was sent to Supreme Court Branch 39, located in the city of Qom. Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney and his brother referred to this Branch several times in order to request a close and precise examination of the case and to ensure the ruling is overturned. They presented the Branch with a letter from former parliamentarians, attorneys at law, jurists, and civil activists in support of Mr. Hossein Panahi. However, Supreme Court Branch 39 upheld the trial court’s ruling within just a month of receiving the request for a new trial. According to Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney, adjudicating even ordinary cases takes months, and even more than a year at the Supreme Court; expediting this particular case in spite of a death sentence, and an immediate upholding of the trial court’s ruling, cannot and does not conform to the requirements of a fair trial. (Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney, October 18, 2018; ISNA, August 18, 2018). Mr. Hossein Panahi’s lawyers requested a new trial once again. Whereas, pursuant to the Note to Article 477 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure, in cases where the subject matter deals with the taking of a life, the Supreme Court must immediately order a stay of sentence upon receipt of the request for a new trial, that was not done in Mr. Hossin Panahi’s case. According to Mr. Hossein Panahi’s lawyer, another defect in this case was that the sentence was carried out while the case was still open and pending. (Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney, October 18, 2018).

Judgment

On January 20, 2018, pursuant to Iran’s Islamic Penal Code Article 287, Sanandaj Revolutionary Court Branch One found Mr. Ramin Hossein Panahi to be “Baghi” and sentenced him to death. The second request for a new trial was referred to Supreme Court Branch 39 located in the city of Qom on March 10, 2018, and said Branch upheld the trial court’s ruling verbatim on April 8, 2018. (Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney, October 18, 2018; ISNA, June 10, 2018).

Mr. Hossein Panahi’s family was not informed of him being transferred for the implementation of the death sentence. (Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney, October 10, 2018). On September 8, 2018, Mr. Ramin Hossein Panahi was hanged at Tehran’s Evin Prison along with Messrs. Zanyar and Loqman Moradi. (Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney, October 10, 2018).

Two days after his execution, Mr. Hossein Panahi’s body was shown to his lawyer, mother, sister, and older brother at Tehran’s Beheshte Zahra Cemetery, but was not turned over to them, and was buried in an unknown location. According to the people who were present there, Information agents told the families of Mr. Hossein Panahi and the other individuals who were executed, that they were not allowed to take pictures and videos of the bodies, and were not allowed to cry. According to his attorney, however, Mr. Hossein Panahi’s mother was extremely upset, so much so that, at the sight of her son’s body, she jumped around as if a mountain of fire were burning inside of her. (Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Hossein Panahi’s attorney, October 10, 2018).

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