Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Amir Karbala'i Heidar


Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Unknown


Date of Killing: September 29, 2002
Location of Killing: Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Unspecified offense; Rape

About this Case

Information about the execution of Mr. Amir Karbala’i Heidar and four other individuals has been taken from the websites of Iran newspaper (Aug. 28, Sep. 28 & 30, 2002), Amnesty International (Sep. 25), the Jomhuri Eslami newspaper (Sep. 27), and the ISNA news agency (Sep. 29). According to Iran, these five men kidnapped young women and raped them; the sixth member of this gang called “Unveiled Hunters” (or “Black Vultures” in Amnesty International’s report, established in June/July 2001), not proven guilty of rape, was charged with kidnapping and consumption of alcohol and condemned to flogging and 25 years imprisonment. The judge of Tehran Judiciary stated that “according to the law, the details of the activities of this gang cannot be disclosed…” He denied the allegation that the victims of the gang were, in fact, prostitutes and added: “fading of spiritual values, the type of make-up and inappropriate appearance of some women provoke some youth and hence bring about certain difficulties… The Judiciary and the police will sternly prosecute the seditious and will not show any consideration in their prosecution” (Jomhuri Eslami).

Arrest and detention

Following the complaint of a young woman regarding the kidnapping of her sister and her friend, the members of this gang were arrested on December 30, 2001 (Iran). The details of this defendant’s arrest and detention are not known.


No information is available on the defendant’s trial other than it took place at Branch 1610 of the Tehran Judiciary (Amnesty International).


Mr. Karbala’i Heidar was charged with “rape, kidnapping, theft, and consumption of alcohol” (Iran). The newspaper wrote that the gang members, under the cover of taxi cab drivers, kidnapped women, stole their valuables, and raped them.

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’s authorities have brought trumped-up charges against their political opponents and executed them for drug trafficking, sexual, and other criminal offences. The exact number of people convicted based on trumped-up charges is unknown.

Evidence of guilt

The exact number of the victims of the gang was not announced but it was mentioned that the file included ten victims (Jomhuri Eslami). The Judge stated that when the media publicized the story, many people wrote to one of the newspapers and complained about the gang. After opening a telephone hot-line for the victims of the gang, 17 tapes of phone calls were recorded, totaling 30 hours (ibid). According to the Iran newspaper, four of the victims of the gang testified against the defendants at court. The newspaper report also referred to identification of the victims by the police, and communications of many women, who did not wish to come forward for the sake of their honor. Additionally, having heard the testimony of the witnesses, the defendants expressed regret and confessed to having committed the crimes.

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. In the case of political detainees, these confessions are, at times, televised. The National Television broadcasts confessions during which prisoners plead guilty to vague and false charges, repent and renounce their political beliefs, and/or implicate others. Human rights organizations have also pointed to the pattern of retracted confessions by those prisoners who are freed.


No information is available on Mr. Karbala’i Heidar’s defense at the court. However, three of the defendants spoke to the media before their execution. Mr. Karbala’i Heidar stated that he was innocent and that the targeted women were prostitutes and he did not understand why they filed complaints against the defendants. Another defendant, named Majid Qasemi, said: “we do not deserve to be executed. The [women] who filed complaints against us did not resist our demands.” When asked why, as a student, he committed such acts, Payam Amini, another co-defendant, responded, “I accept that I had infringed the law and am ready to be punished for that, but our crime was not such to be punishable by death…”


The court condemned the defendants to death and Branch 32 of the Supreme Court approved the death sentence. According to ISNA, each of the individuals was flogged 154 lashes before the execution. The three young men waved at their friends from inside the police vehicle that brought them to the execution location. They hugged each other and one of them “angrily objected to the journalists and reporters” (Iran). The judge asserted: “The strict execution of God’s punishment will continue.” Having read the verdict, he went to each defendant to write down their wills. Mr. Amir Karbala’i Heidar and two of his co-defendants were hanged at Esteqlal Circle in Tehran at 7 a.m. on September 30, 2002 in public. Their bodies were left hanging from the gallows for 15 minutes.

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