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

Mohammad Reza Rafi'nia

About

Age: 35
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Single

Case

Date of Killing: November 26, 2006
Location: Kerman, Kerman Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Robbery; Homosexual act; Prostitution and/or procuring; Rape
Age at time of offense: 32

About this Case

News of the execution of Mr. Mohammad Reza Rafi’nia, aka Mohammad Khan Rafi’ee, son of Mahmud, was published on the Kerna News website - the city of Kerman news website (November 26, 2006), in Kayhan newspaper, Jomhuri Eslami newspaper (November 27, 2006), and Javan newspaper, the latter quoting the Kerman Prosecutor (November 27, 2006). Additional information about this case was obtained from Mr. Rafi’nia’s personal weblog entitled “My Observations (Notes)” (April 7, and 9, 2008). He has written about the manner of his arrest and of his trial in his weblog, and has published the Court Decision and the Supreme Court Decision therein.

Mr. Rafi’nia was a well-known figure in the city of Kerman. According to official information, he had been arrested a number of times between 1997 and 2003-04, for having been involved in street fights and altercations. Upon a complaint by a mother who had claimed that her daughter had been kidnapped by Mr. Rafi’nia, the police planned and arrested him on January 17, 2002, with the help of the mother. He was in detention for a month and was released upon the order of the General Court Branch Ten, based on the girl’s testimony, who was his girlfriend.

There is other information to the effect that Mr. Rafi’nia was a kind man, ready to help others. People would come to him for his help in “teaching a lesson” to people who harassed them.

According to available information, his case and those of 32 other individuals are related to drug crimes, sexual offenses, participating in armed robbery, and endangering public order. Mr. Rafi’nia’s last case is related to a Court decision issued in a 2003-04 trial, in which he had not been present.

Arrest and detention

On November 10, 2003, Mr. Rafi’nia was arrested in Shiraz by the Kerman and Shiraz Information General Administration and taken to Kerman Prison.

According to available information, in May-June 2002, the Kerman Resistance Guards agents attempted to arrest Mr. Rafi’nia and his accomplices; Mr. Rafi’nia fled but 13 other individuals were arrested. The agents were able to identify his hiding place in Shiraz after a short while and proceeded to arrest him. (General Court Branch Seven Decision). He was incarcerated at Kerman Prison for a while and was subsequently transferred to [the town of] Jiroft Prison. On November 25, 2006, Mr. Rafi’nia was transferred to Kerman Prison without his family’s knowledge. He spent three years in Kerman’s prisons.

Another report states that subsequent to the arrest and detention of several individuals who were in contact with Mr. Rafi’nia, Kerman’s Bassij Resistance opened a case against him. He initially went to Tehran n order to hide, and subsequently to Shiraz to be close to his girlfriend. The girl’s mother found out, however, and called the agents. The latter surrounded him when he was returning from a repair shop and beat him up with the stock of a rifle, breaking his nose. The agents arrested and transferred him from Shiraz to Kerman. (Mr. Rafi’nia’s weblog).

Trial

Kerman General Court Branch Seven tried Mr. Rafi’nia. He had an attorney. The case was adjudicated in Kerman General Court Branch Ten, which was later changed to Branch Seven, “with a special decree and on the order of the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader”. Trial sessions convened on July 25, 2006, November 11, 2006, and January 5, 2007. (Supreme Court Decision, October 11, 2006).

On November 19, 2002, Kerman General Court Branch Ten tried Mr. Rafi’nia and 13 other individuals in his absence. All 13 individuals were tried and sentenced. Citing Article 265(b) of the Law on the Rules of Criminal Procedure, the Supreme Court ruled that the sentences regarding the crimes of forcible rape, armed robbery, theft involving harassment, and kidnapping, were defective due to defects in the investigations, the proceedings, and the absence of the plaintiffs in court, but declared that there was sufficient evidence regarding other charges, and remanded the case for de novo hearing to Kerman General Court Branch Ten. (Supreme Court Decision, October 22, 2003).

Charges

Kerman Deputy Prosecutor announced the charges against Mr. Rafi’nia as “creating fear and apprehension, depriving the populace of their freedom and security, non-Hadd theft, drinking alcoholic beverages, kidnapping, and [religiously] prohibited [sexual] relations”. (Supreme Court Decision, October 11, 2006).

The validity of the criminal charges brought against this defendant cannot be ascertained in the absence of the basic guarantees of a fair trial.  International human rights organizations have drawn attention to reports indicating that the Islamic Republic authorities have brought trumped-up charges, including drug trafficking, sexual, and other criminal offences, against their opponents (including political, civil society activists, as well as unionists and ethnic and religious minorities). Each year Iranian authorities sentence to death hundreds of alleged common criminals, following judicial processes that fail to meet international standards. The exact number of people convicted and executed based on trumped-up charges is unknown.

Evidence of guilt

The evidence against Mr. Rafi’nia was announced to be “Kerman Province Information General Administration’s report dated October 7, 2001, numerous reports by official Police and Information authorities, Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Headquarters report, and numerous cases in various Kerman Province criminal courts as well as outside the province”. (Kerman General Court Branch Seven Decision).

Defense

Mr. Rafi’nia’s defense attorney represented him at trial. No one attended the trial as plaintiff. (Kerman General Court Branch Seven Decision). Mr. Rafi’nia’s attorney declared his client innocent of all charges, and objected to Mr. Rafi’nia’s guilty findings in a 26-page brief. In a brief dated November 23, 2003, Mr. Rafi’nia objected to the Supreme Court’s ruling. The SupremeCourt took the brief into consideration and announced: “The sentences regarding kidnapping, forcible rape, armed robbery, theft involving harassment, cannot be upheld due to defects in the investigations, lack of mentioning the source of the information, the statemnets and complaints of the plaintiffs not having been heard in court, and lack of attention to a number of plaintiffs’ statements to the effect that there was no kidnapping and rape,” and remanded the case to Kerman General Court Branch Ten for de novo hearing. (Supreme Court Decision, October 11, 2006).

A Summary of the Legal Defects in Mr. Rafi’nia’s case

According to the Supreme Court Branch Sixteen’s decision, “Kerman General Court Branch Ten has relied on its own [judge’s] knowledge [in reaching its decision] but has not clearly and expressly cited the source of such knowledge: There is no evidence in the case file based on which one can attain real and actual knowledge of kidnapping, forcible rape, armed robbery, and theft involving harassment. Furthermore, none of the plaintiffs were present at trial, and the court did not hear their statements and complaints in the presence of the defendants. Some of the plaintiffs retracted the charge of kidnapping and rape through submission of an official retraction, and declared that no such acts took place”.

In another passage of its Decision, Branch Sixteen states: “An analysis of the case file and the attached records, showed that a number of the women and girls that were claimed to have been kidnapped and forcibly raped turned out to have been morally corrupt and had run away from home, and their statements could not easily be accepted; there was doubt [as to the veracity of those statements], at a minimum.”

Given the above, it is clear that none of the evidence necessary to prove the case existed here, and that was why the court relied on the judge’s knowledge, and the latter was stated to have been obtained solely on the basis of the Police, Bassij, and the Information Ministry reports; the reports of such institutions cannot create knowledge and certainty in the mind of the judge on their own, [absent corroborating evidence]. 

Judgment

On August 3, 2005, Kerman General Court Branch Seven found Mr. Mohammad Reza Rafi’nia “Mohareb (“one who wages war against Allah”) and “Mofsed fel-Arz” (“one who spreads corruption on Earth”) pursuant to Article 183 of the Islamic Penal Code, and sentenced him to death.

It’s all lies. I didn’t pay anyone off; I did not give in to coercion.

The Court also sentenced him to 80 lashes for drinking alcohol, 99 lashes for prohibited sexual relations (pursuant to Article 637 of the Islamic Penal Code), 15 years in prison for kidnapping (pursuant to Article 621 of the Islamic Penal Code), and to 10 years in prison and 74 lashes for Non-Hadd theft provided for in Article 652 [of the Islamic Penal Code].

On the morning of Sunday, November 26, 2006, Mr. Rafi’nia was hanged in public at Kerman’s Khaju Square in the presence of representatives from the Prosecutor’s Office, the Supreme Court, the Police Force, and the Prisons General Administration.

Prior to the implementation of the death sentence, Mr. Rafi’nia said: “I didn’t pay anyone off, Sir. I didn’t give in to coercion; and the hanging, I will take it like a man. It’s all a bunch of lies, Sir.”

The banners that went up after his death were testaments to the sadness felt by his passing.

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