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

Amir Hossein Purja'far Katamjani

About

Age: 19
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Single

Case

Date of Killing: January 4, 2018
Location of Killing: Varamin Prison, Varamin, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Murder; Rape
Age at time of offense: 17

About this Case

At three months old, he experienced an episode of high fever and severe seizure which resulted in loss of hearing in one ear and disability in one leg. Physical problems, in addition to the the treatment he received from school officials, had turned him into a belligerent loner.

News of Mr. Amir Hossein Purja'far Katamjani, child of Roghieh and Habib, was published by Mizan News Agency (January 4, 2018) and IRNA news agency (January 4, 2018). Additional information about this case was obtained from Mizan News Agency (April 18, 2016, May 3, 2016, January 9, 2017, September 25, 2017, October 9, 2017), MEHR News Agency (January 9, 2017), ISNA news agency (September 25, 2017), Fars News Agency (April 27, 2016), Iran newspaper (April 17, 2016), Young Reporters Club (April 16, 2016), Khabar Online (October 27, 2017, February 17, 2018), Amnesty International website (October 13, 2017), Shahrvand newspaper (January 16, 2018), HRANA news agency (October 18, 2017), Rokna (January 4, 2018), Sarpush –e Havades website (January 6, 2018), and the Islamic Consultative Assembly Research Center’s website (May 1, 2013).

Mr. Purjafar was born on December 16, 1999, and lived with his father, mother, and three sisters in the city of Varamin’s Kheirabad village. At three months old, he experienced an episode of high fever and severe seizure which resulted in loss of hearing in one ear and disability in one leg. According to his mother, he was “belligerent” and “a loner” because of his physical problem. For that reason, Mr. Purjafar was on medication prescribed by doctors and had to stay on those medications until the age of 20. Mr. Purjafar’s father was not very close to him and was working most of the time. Mr. Purjafar had good relations with his older sister, and other than that, he had one close friend. His only friend has described him as “quiet” and “aloof”. Because of his personality traits, school officials separated Mr. Purjafar from other students and this had an immense adverse affect on him. Mr. Purjafar’s family was therefore forced to change his school. (Khabar Online).

Because of his personality and his living environment, Mr. Purjafar did not have the possibility of recreational activities, and instead, did technical work in his spare time. According to his mother, “Amir Hossein repaired everything that needed to be fixed in the house”. (Khabar Online).

Mr. Purjafar’s case is related to the murder of Setayesh Qoreishi, a 6-year-old Afghan girl, on April 10, 2016, at the city of Varamin’s Kheirabad village.

International laws have strictly prohibited capital punishment for those who were under the age of 18 at the time of committing a crime. As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Iran has the obligation not to impose capital punishment for an offence committed before the age of eighteen.

Arrest and detention

On the afternoon of April 10, 2016, someone reported the disappearance of a 6-year-old girl to the police. Two days later, on April 12, the police discovered the girl’s body in the bathtub of the neighbor, Mr. Purjafar’s home (Young Reporters Club) and Mr. Purjafar was subsequently arrested in the city of Varamin a few days later. Since he was 17 years old at the time of the arrest, he was turned over to the Reform and Rehabilitation Center, and subsequently transferred to Rajaishahr Prison. On April 20, 2016, a court-appointed lawyer was designated for Mr. Purjafar. (Mizan and IRNA news agencies, January 4, 2018).

Mr. Purjafar had spent 20 days of his detention at Razi (Aminabad) Mental Hospital due the severity of his illness and his extreme belligerence. He had also tried to harm himself in prison on two occasions.

According to Mr. Purjafar’s father and his attorney, he spent 20 days of his detention in January 2017, at Razi (Aminabad) Mental Hospital due to the severity of his illness and his extreme belligerence. He had also tried to harm himself in prison on two occasions. (Shahrvand newspaper, Sarpush-e Havades website).

Mr. Purjafar’s last visitation with his family was on the morning of January 2, 2018. Members of his family were not certain whether that visitation were to be the last or not. (Rokna).

Trial

Tehran Province Criminal Court One, Branch 7 tried Mr. Purjafar in several sessions. He had a court-appointed lawyer.

According to available information, judicial authorities tried Mr. Purjafar out of turn and in a special way. In May 2016, the case was investigated at the City of Varamin General and Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office and an indictment was issued less than a month later. The case was then referred to Tehran Province Criminal Court One, Branch 7 to go to trial. The first trial session was convened on September 14, 2016. According to Mr. Purjafar’s attorney, “the trial was closed door when hearing the charge of ‘salacious [and unchaste] act’ and was open to the public regarding the other charges”. (Mizan, Fars, IRNA, and ISNA, news agencies). No information is available regarding the other hearings in this case.

Charges

Mr. Purjafar’s charges were said to have been “intentional murder, forcible rape, and committing a crime on a corpse”. (Boroumand Center interview).

With the discovery of the 6-year-old girl’s body in the bathtub of Mr. Purjafar’s home, he was charged with her murder.

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. Purjafar’s case was prepared based on “preliminary investigations” conducted subsequent to the disappearance report and after the discovery of the victim’s body. (Mizan Newws Agency). The details of these investigations are not available. Mr. Purjafar’s confessions after his arrest, and in court, were among the evidence used against him.

On April 16, 2016, Mr. Purjafar was taken to the scene of the murder on the orders of the City of Varamin’s Criminal Investigation Judge, and described and re-enacted the event.

The Medical Examiner’s report as to Mr. Purjafar’s good health was also used against him in this case. In order to examine Mr. Purjafar’s mental health, a commission comprised of experts, the principal of the school where he was a student, and his parents, was established. (IRNA).

Although according to his birth certificate, Mr. Purjafar was 17 years old at the time of the commission of the crime, judicial authorities believed that “he had reached mental and intellectual maturity and was able to determine the illegality of the crime”. (Mizan News Agency). Relying on medical examinations and the psychologists’ and the Medical Examiner’s reports, the Supreme Court confirmed Mr. Purjafar’s “mental health and intellectual maturity”. (Shahrvand newspaper).

Defense

Judicial authorities paid no attention to the diagnosis by the psychologist and the social worker at the Reform and Rehabilitation Center regarding Mr. Purjafar’s mental illness.

Mr. Purjafar’s psychologist during detention described him as an “extremely introverted” individual “who lacked the ability to establish a rapport with others”. According to this expert, Mr. Purjafar suffered from personality disorder as a result of which “he violated laws and the prevailing order”. (Khabar Online).

Furthermore, according to the Reform and Rehabilitation Center’s experts, Mr. Purjafar suffered from “behavioral disorder”. According to them, if this disorder goes on without being treated, it can lead to “sociopathic personality” in the patient and “loss of empathy toward others”. In other words, “a normal person feels bad about the suffering of another, but a person with behavioral disorder is not affected by it”. (Sarpush-e Havades website).

Regarding his mental state at the time of the commission of the crime, Mr. Purjafar had stated: “I didn’t feel like myself then. I don’t remember any of the things I did.” (Rokna).

According to a person with knowledge of the case, Mr. Purjafar had used drugs on the day of the event. This person believes “getting drugs in Varamin’s Kheirabad is extremely simple” and these drugs have unpredictable effects on the user’s behavior. This person described Mr. Purjafar as a “harmless” individual who had committed rape and murder under the influence of drugs. (Sarpush-e Havades website). 

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

The most important defect in Mr. Purjafar’s conviction is the lack of sufficient attention given to his mental state and to the consequences of his age at the time of the commission of the crime. According to published reports, Mr. Purjafar suffered from mental illness and used medication. According to other reports, he had used narcotic drugs on the day of the crime. Additionally, he was under the age of 18 at the time of the event. Pursuant to Iranian law, if a crime is committed in circumstances of temporary insanity, the perpetrator will not have absolute criminal responsibility. Furthermore, pursuant to Islamic Penal Code Article 91, if the person under 18 years of age commits a crime carrying Hadd punishment or Qesas, if there is any doubt as to his intellectual maturity, or that he did not understand the nature of his actions, Hadd punishment or Qesas will not be carried out against him. In this case, Mr. Purjafar’s conduct indicates that he was not completely aware of the nature and the consequences of his actions because of his illness and his age. It was therefore necessary to ask the opinion of expert psychologists in order to ascertain the level of his awareness of his actions. It seems that this case was influenced by the [negative] public sentiment [toward Mr. Purjafar] and that the judicial authorities have acted in haste. 

Judgment

Tehran Province Criminal Court One, Branch 7 sentenced Mr. Amir Hossein Purja'far Katamjani to Qesas [of life, or “retribution for taking a life”] on the charge of intentional murder, and to death on the charge of forcible rape. (ISNA and Rokna). The sentence was upheld by Supreme Court Branch 32 on January 9, 2017, citing the amendments to Islamic Penal Code Articles 133 and 382. (Mizan News Agency).

On January 4, 2018, Mr. Amir Hossein Purja'far Katamjani was hanged at Varamin Prison in the presence of the victim’s family and the prosecutor’s representative. (IRNA). On orders of the court, implementation of the death sentence was postponed until Mr. Purjafar reached the age of 18. (Sarpush-e Havades website).

Regarding the charge of committing a crime against a corpse, Mr. Purjafar had also been sentenced to 74 lashes. (ISNA).

Mr. Purjafar’s body was taken by his family from Rajaishahr Prison to Kheirabad village and was buried “in silence and without anyone’s knowledge”. (Sarpush-e Havades website). 

Reactions to Mr. Amir Hossein Purja'far Katamjani’s Execution

The Head of Tehran Province Judiciary stated that the death sentence was implemented “upon the request and insistence” of the victim’s family. (IRNA). In another statement, however, he had said that since Mr. Purjafar had been sentenced to death for “forcible rape” (and to Qesas for “murder”), the death sentence would still be carried out even if the victim’s family would forgive him and forego the implementation of Qesas. (Mizan News Agency)

Mr. Purjafar’s family, civil society institutions inside Iran, and international organizations such as Amnesty International, had tried for a long time to overturn or delay the death sentence. (Boroumand Center research). Furthermore, a few hours before the hanging, Mr. Purjafar’s family and representatives from several civil society organizations had gathered behind the prison gate to get the victim’s family to forgive him and forego Qesas. However, these efforts became moot when it was announced that the death sentence had been carried out. (Sarpush-e Havades website).

For the Afghan family whose daughter had been raped and murdered by Mr. Purjafar, the day of his execution was just as bad as the day they heard the news of their daughter’s murder: Mr. Purjafar’s execution did not help alleviate their pain in the least.

In an article, Leili Rashidi, Iranian movie and television actress, considered Mr. Purjafar’s execution a violation of the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and emphasized: “The mistake Amir Hossein made was influenced by outside events. The environment in which Amir Hossein grew up, the education system, family upbringing, etc., and factors that have disregarded children, including Amir Hossein, are the reasons why such events occur.” (Rokna).

Mr. Purjafar’s father considered the persecution of his grandchildren at school, the conflicts between the families of his son-in-law’s with his daughters, and the cutting off of family relations, as the effects of his son’s crime and execution. (Khabar Online).

A short while after Mr. Purjafar’s execution, Setayesh Qoreishi’s mother said in an interview: “Amir Hossein’s execution didn’t make us feel any better and didn’t change anything. It only took [another person’s] life. We thought that we would find solace and closure once Amir Hossein was executed. But for us, the day Amir Hossein was hanged was exactly like the day we heard the news of our daughter’s murder. None of us felt well. Perhaps if we could turn back the clock, we would forgive Amir Hossein so he wouldn’t be executed. But even that one time that his execution had been delayed, they accused us of having sold our daughter’s life for money.” (Khabar Online).

____________________________

*Islamic Penal Code of 2013, Article 133: “In the event that multiple crimes subject to Hadd punishment and Qesas have been committed, said crimes shall be combined. However, if the Hadd punishment destroys the subject matter of Qesas, or delays implementation of Qesas, implementation of Qesas takes priority; and in the event that immediate implementation of Qesas is not demanded, or [the next of kin] forgives [and forgoes Qesas], or Qesas has been substituted by payment of Diah (“blood money”), Hadd punishment shall be implemented.”
**Islamic Penal Code of 2013, Article 382: “In the event that a Moslem woman is murdered intentionally, the right of Qesas remains steadfast; however, if the murderer is a Moslem man, the next of kin shall pay him half of the full Diah before Qesas can be implemented, and if the murderer is a non-moslem man, Qesas shall be carried out without any payments. In cases of Qesas against a non-Moslem man for the murder of a non-Moslem woman, it is necessary to pay the difference in their [respective] Diah’s.”

Correct/ Complete This Entry