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

Hamid Reza Baqeri Darmani


Age: 51
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Married


Date of Execution: December 22, 2018
Location: Evin Prison, Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Economic offenses; Corruption on earth
Age at time of offense: 47

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 equality before the law and the right to equal protection of the law.

UDHR, Article 7; ICCPR, Article 26.

The right to due process

  • The right to be presumed innocent until found guilty by a competent and impartial tribunal in accordance with law.

ICCPR, Article 14.1 and Article 14.2.

Pre-trial detention rights

  • The right to know promptly and in detail the nature and cause of the charges against one.

UDHR, Article 9(2); ICCPR, Article 9.2 and Article 14.3.a

  • The right to counsel of one’s own choosing or the right to legal aid. The right to communicate with one’s attorney in confidence

ICCPR, Article 14.3.b and Article 14.3.d; Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, Article 1, Article 2, Article 5, Article 6, and Article 8.

  • The right to adequate time and facilities for the preparation of the defense case.

ICCPR, Article 14.3.b.

  • The right not to be compelled to testify against oneself or to confess to guilt.

ICCPR, Article 14.3.g.

  • The right not to be subjected to torture and to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

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

Trial rights

  • The right to a fair and public trial without undue delay.

ICCPR, Article 14.1, Article 14.3.c.

  • The right to examine, or have examined, the witnesses against one, and the right to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on one’s behalf under the same conditions as prosecution witnesses.

ICCPR, Article 14.3.d and Article 14.3.e.

  • The right to have the decision rendered in public.

ICCPR, Article 14.1.

Judgment rights

  • The right to seek pardon or commutation of sentence.

ICCPR, Article 6.4.

  • The right not to be tried or punished again for an offence for which one has already been

convicted or acquitted.

ICCPR, Article 14.7.

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

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

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

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

About this Case

News of the execution of Mr. Hamidreza Baqeri Darmani, child of Mohammad Baqer, was published in the Tehran General and Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office website (December 24, 2018), in HRANA, the news arm of the Human Rights Activists in Iran’s website (December 22, 2018), and in ISNA, Iranian Students News Agency’s website, quoting the Tehran General and Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office’s News Website. Additional information about this case was obtained from the websites of IRNA, the Islamic Republic of Iran News Agency (December 9, and 20, 2018), Jam-e Jam Online (August 25, 2018), Alef News and Analysis Society (September 2, 2018), Mizan (August 25, 2018, September 3, 4, and 15, 2018, November 15, 2018), Afkar News (August 25, 2018), Bayan-e Ma (August 20, 2018), Fars News Agency (May 29, 2007), the State Radio and Television footage from Mr. Baqeri Darmani’s trial, and the BBC (December 22, 2018).

Mr. Baqeri Darmani was 51 years old, married, with one child. He started his work in 1988-89, selling home appliances. A few years later, he owned several gold production plants and a refinery in the city of Noshahr, and had become one of the most influential businesspeople in the country.

The case of Mr. Baqeri Darmani and 32 other individuals in the case involves establishing a gang, embezzlement, fraud, and bribery. The defendants hail from very different social backgrounds, among whom are four official experts of the Judiciary, two official notaries, and two Bank Melli Iran employees; five of the defendants are fugitives from the law, including Mr. Baqeri Darmani’s brother. The adjudication of this case took four years.

According to available information, Mr. Baqeri Darmani was first arrested on May 29, 2007, by the Central Headquarters for Combatting the Trafficking of Goods and Foreign Currency, and was released on his own recognizance the day after the arrest. The Central Headquarters for Combatting the Trafficking of Goods and Foreign Currency announced that, according to existing evidence, Mr. Baqeri Darmani owed close to 20 thousand billion rials to the country’s banking system. Two years later, upon complaints brought by the Central Bank, Melli Bank, Sepah Bank, and Keshavarzi Bank, Mr. Baqeri was charged with profiteering through illegal means, and on January 5, 2009, he was sentenced by General Court Branch 1192 to 13 months in prison and return of assets. He was banned from entering any contracts and/or transactions on September 6, 2010.

Arrest and detention

Mr. Baqeri Darmani was last arrested on August 22, 2014, by Tehran Criminal Investigations officers, and spent the next four years at Evin Prison in Tehran. There is no information about the details of his arrest and detention.


Tehran Islamic Revolutionary Court, Branch 15, tried Mr. Baqeri Darmani in nine sessions before one presiding judge, two associate judges, and the defendant’s attorneys. Four of the sessions were closed door. The public sessions convened on August 25, 2018 (Mizan, August 25, 2018), September 2, 2018 (Alef News and Analysis Society, September 2, 2018), September 3, 2018 (Mizan, September 3, 2018), September 4, 2018 (Mizan, September 4, 2018), and September 15, 2018 (Mizan, September 15, 2018).  (ISNA, December 22, 2018). 


Mr. Baqeri Darmani was charged with “defrauding Jey Oil Company through the creation of a multi-member network where he was the leader; conspiracy in the attempted defrauding of Iran Insurance Company; conspiracy in defrauding Bank Melli Iran through the creation of a multi-member network; conspiracy in the attempted defrauding of Gardeshgari Bank; conspiracy in the attempted defrauding of Eghtessad Novin Currency Exchange Company, conspiracy in the attempted defrauding of Saman-e Majd Company; and payment of substantial amounts of bribes” (Mizan website, November 15, 2018).

According to available information, the case against Mr. Baqeri Darmani was initiated through a complaint lodged by Jey Oil Company at the Tehran Prosecutor’s Office, District 11, on September 3, 2012. They claimed that since early 2011, the six companies of Qaem Kowsar, Mo’tamed Bazaegan Qaem, Toloo Eqtessad Mazand, Etemadgostar Soeheil, Hafezan Energy Shayan, Persian Namgostar, Shokooh Abideh, and Arya Borj, obtained 322 million 343 thousand and 336 kilograms of tar from Jey Oil Company by resorting to fraud and forged documents, and illegally obtained that company’s assets. The Islamic Republic Police Force Special Operations Center’s report also indicated that Mr. Baqeri Darmani was the leader of the networks which had engaged in fraud and illegally obtaining assets using the six companies (Mizan website, November 15, 2018).

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 

The evidence used against Mr. Baqeri Darmani consisted of “complaints by 10 plaintiffs, the most important of whom was Jey Oil Company, the defendants’ confessions, forged bank guarantees, forged state official documents, payment of bribes, prior criminal conviction with regard to fraud case”.

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.


At trial, Mr. Baqeri Darmani denied the charges and the legitimacy of the law based on which he had been charged for actions taken prior to the passage of said law. He said in his own defense: “I object to the basis of the charges brought against me. One of the charges is Efsad fel-Arz (“spreading corruption on Earth”) which has fundamental defects; contrary to the provisions of the law on Efsad fel-Arz, the plaintiff is a private company that has all the necessary guarantees, and the charges against me are not extensive.” He continued: “Furthermore, the law cited in the indictment was passed in 2013 whereas my contracts pre-date 2013 and the law cannot be applied retroactively.” Additionally, Mr. Baqeri Darmani considered his trial by the Islamic Revolutionary Court as wrong and stated: “Pursuant to Supreme Court Unifying Ruling Number 571, if the court determines that there is a charge of disrupting the regime but the elements of the crime [have not been proven] and endangering national security has not resulted therefrom, the charge of Efsad fel-Arz cannot stand. Therefore, the competent authority to hear the charges brought against me is the General Court, not the Revolutionary Court. Also, a portion of the Efsad fel-Arz charge brought against me alludes to my debts, some of which have already been satisfied; for instance, in the Bank Melli case, my sentence has already been carried out.” Concerning the contracts of the six companies connected to him, he stated: “The contracts of those six companies are civil contracts [not criminally prosecutable], and there is only a difference in accounting and there is absolutely no forgery.” Concerning his leadership [of the criminal network], Mr. Darmani said: “Leadership of criminals cannot be attributed to me, and given that an act is a crime only if it has already been so defined by the legislature and a punishment has been prescribed therefor, the acts described in the indictment had not been criminalized prior to the commission, and I am the only one who has been accused without any evidence, whereas the commercial actions and transactions between the plaintiffs have taken place prior to the years 2011 and 2012.” Concerning the contracts and the dealings with plaintiff companies, he noted: “It is best if the amounts are declared without any reservations; I request that these matters be referred to experts.” (Alef News and Analysis Society, September 2, 2018).

In his defense, Mr. Baqeri Darmani also stated: “Seven years have passed since 2011, and no investigation has been conducted with regards to documentation in the file for return of assets. Nothing has been done to find out what the evidence against the six companies is.” He continued: “The activities of these six companies were within the framework of the laws and regulations and no violation has been committed. You can’t just make an allegation of forged documents and then add to it the charges of existence of a network and fraud.” In response to the judge who told him that he had not paid any taxes, he stated: “I have not had any activities since 2011 and my assets have been confiscated all these years.” (Mizan, September 15, 2018).

In the presentation of his defense of Mr. Baqeri Darmani, his attorney noted the ambiguities in the case, the lack of clarity [as to the commission of any] crime, and the lack of evidence supporting the allegations, and stated this about Mr. Baqeri Darmani’s case: “This case is, in effect, an aggregate of several complaints from different sources; G Oil Company has lodged several complaints in different cities for a single matter; they brought a complaint in Esfahan and their insistence that the case be referred to Esfahan is indicative of the plaintiffs’ misdeed in bringing the complaint.” In objecting to the complaint brought by G Oil Refining Company’s complaint, he said that their figures were contradictory, and upon a simple comparison of these figures with the real numbers, it will quickly become clear that they are fake. In discussing the charge of fraud, Mr. Baqeri Darmani’s attorney explained: “The crime of fraud is defined as resorting to deceitful means in order to take another’s property. In said case, regarding the six companies, tar was purchased in cash and on credit; all of the purchases were made through the stock exchange and some of the purchase price was paid in cash, and all of the documentation is available in the case file.” Regarding the documents being forged, the attorney defended his client and said: “No forged document has been presented in relation with the tar; there was expert analysis conducted in this regard, and the expert announced at Tehran’s Yaftabad Prosecutor’s Office that the amount of the debt s was equivalent to the value of the real property under the control of the plaintiff company. After an objection to the expert analysis, the experts then determined the amount of the debt owed by the companies, and it became clear that the amount of the debts owed were equivalent to the guarantees in G Oil Company’s possession; therefore, no deceitful and fraudulent action had been taken in the six companies.” He asked the court to appoint an expert in order to analyze G Oil Company’s contracts in this regard. He further faulted G Oil Company for attributing their own problems to his client. (Alef News and Analysis Society, September 2, 2018).

Regarding purchase of tar, Mr. Baqeri Darmani’s attorney stated: “It is not clear what the basis of the figure regarding the tar is in the indictment, and it is necessary that the extent of each person’s involvement in the alleged fraud and the assets thus obtained be explained in detail. The amount of assets to be returned is not clear either, and all of this is indicative of a lack of proper due process and the trampling of my client’s rights which has resulted in his staying incarcerated for more than four years. Considering that an element of the crime of fraud contained in the definition is the taking of another’s property, it must be determined what property constitutes the property of another here, and each person’s share in the property so obtained must be determined as well. Prior to the determination of the violation, my client had nothing to with the case… The majority of legal scholars consider one defendant’s confession incriminating another defendant as invalid.” He then told the plaintiffs: “The terms used in all of these cases are ‘I think that, it seems that, etc.’ Given the principle of innocent until proven guilty, my client is innocent of these charges and I ask that he be acquitted.” Regarding Paragraph 7 of the indictment that concerned insulting a government employee, the attorney said that there was no complaint in this regard; and about Paragraph 8 of the indictment that had to do with payment of bribes, he said: “There is ambiguity about the amount of the bribe, and what the bribe was for and what the reason for it was. This charge is inaccurate and improper” (Mizan, September 15, 2018).

Mr. Baqeri Darmani’s second attorney addressed the charge of Efsad fel-Arz. He said in his client’s defense: “It is not clear what Efsad fel-Arz is about in this case. Is it about disrupting the economic system or is it about endangering national security?” he continued: “Based on the inquiries we have made with the [Documents] Registration Administration, my client is not a debtor, and his debt has already been paid. It seems that there are other reasons for lodging this charge; my client was charged with complicity in fraud at the time of his arrest, which was later modified to conspiracy in fraud by the [investigative] judge.” In closing, he stated: “The charge of Efsad fel-Arz requires that [the act of spreading corruption] be extensive and widespread; the charge of Efsad fel-Arz cannot apply to my client, and my client most definitely does not fall within the definition of the crime” (Mizan, September 15, 2018).

Mr. Baqeri appealed the Court’s ruling and requested a new trial. Mr. Baqeri’s case was referred to the Supreme Court.

A Summary of the Defects of Mr. Baqeri Darmani’s Legal Proceedings 

In this case, Mr. Baqeri Darmani was convicted of Efsad fel-Arz on the basis of Article 4 of the Law for Harsher Sentences for Perpetrators of Bribery, Embezzlement, and Fraud. Nothing in the aforementioned Article provides any definitions or rules for instances where a defendant is considered to be a Mofsed fel-Arz (“One who spreads corruption on Earth”). Therefore, the Islamic Revolutionary Court has extracted the elements for Efsad fel-Arz from Article 286 of the Islamic Penal Code of 2013. Pursuant to said Article “any person, who extensively commits a felony against the bodily integrity of the people, offenses against the country’s domestic or international security, spreads lies and falsehoods, disrupts the country’s economic and financial system, commits arson and destruction of property, disseminates poisonous, bacterial, and dangerous materials, establishes, or aids and abets in the establishment of places of corruption and prostitution, [on a scale] and in such a way that causes severe disruption in the country’s public order and insecurity, or causes large scale damage to the bodily integrity of the people or to public or private properties, or causes the large scale spread of corruption and prostitution, shall be considered Mofsed fel-Arz  and shall be sentenced to death.” According to this Article, “spreading corruption on Earth” is established only when, first, the disruption of the country’s economic system is extensive, and, secondly, as a result of such action (s) there is severe disruption in public order or large scale damage to public property. In spite of the fact that there is ambiguity in the provisions of the aforementioned Article and there is thus room for arbitrary interpretation thereof, it does not appear, however, that the totality of Mr. Baqeri Darmani’s actions was to an extent as to jeopardize the country’s security or cause large scale disruption in the economic system. The defendant and his attorneys claimed that the debts had been paid and that they were ready to pay the rest of the debts and/or pay compensation for damages. It cannot, therefore, be said that public or private property has extensively been wasted. Generally speaking, Efsad fel-Arz is established only when the country’s entire security is jeopardized to a considerable degree. The existence of financial issues between several companies, even assuming that one company has engaged in forgery and the defrauding of another company, cannot fall within the purview of Efsad fel-Arz, since these disagreements were not such as to paralyze or severely damage the country’s economic and financial system. The most that should have happened in this case, assuming the accuracy of the charges, the defendant should have been sentenced to Ta’zir punishments of prison sentences and monetary penalties. The execution of a number of individuals, including Mr. Baqeri Darmani, occurred at a time when the country was dealing with a severe economic crisis and the authorities wanted to hastily reorganize the market through tough judicial measures.

On December 10, 2018, after Mr. Baqeri Darmani’s death sentence was upheld, he issued an audio message from Evin Prison addressed to Ayatollah Khamenei asking him to issue an order and stay his execution (BBC, December 22, 2018). 


Citing Article 4 of the Law for Harsher Sentences for Perpetrators of Bribery, Embezzlement, and Fraud,* Tehran Islamic Revolutionary Court, Branch 15, convicted Mr. Baqeri Darmani of being “Mofsed fel-Arz” and sentenced him to death and to the return of the assets. The Court’s decision was upheld by the Supreme Court on November 4, 2018.

Mr. Baqeri darmani was hanged on Saturday, December 22, 2018. There is no information about the location of his execution.

There is also no information regarding the sentences for the other defendants.

On December 26, 2018, services were held for Mr. Baqeri Darmani at Jame Mosque located in Tehran’s Shahrak-e Gharb neighborhood.


*The Law for Harsher Sentences for Perpetrators of Bribery, Embezzlement, and Fraud of 1988, was promulgated by the Expediency Council. Article 4 of said Law provides: “Individuals who engage in bribery, embezzlement, and fraud through the establishment or leadership of a multi-person network, in addition to expropriation of all movable and immovable property acquired through bribery for the account of the government, and to return of such properties obtained through embezzlement and fraud to the government or individuals, as the case may be, shall be sentenced to monetary penalties equivalent to the total value of those assets, permanent prohibition from government service, and imprisonment from 15 years to life; and in the event that they are considered Mofsed fel-Arz, their punishment shall be that prescribed for Mofsed fel-Arz [that is, the death penalty].”

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