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

Farhad Vakili

About

Nationality: Iran
Religion: Unknown
Civil Status: Married

Case

Date of Execution: May 9, 2010
Location: Evin Prison, Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Execution: Hanging

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 have been violated in this case:

  • The right to liberty and security of the person. The right not to be subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention.

    Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Article 3; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 9.1.

  • 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 union for the protection of one’s interests.

    UDHR, Article 20; ICCPR, Article 22.1.

The right to due process

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 legal aid and the right to meet with one’s attorney in confidence

    ICCPR, 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; Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, Article 8%viol_bprl_8%..

  • 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 or punishment.

    UDHR, Article 5; 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 9.3, Article 14.1, Article 14.3.c.

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

ICCPR, Article 14.3.e.

  • The right to have the decision rendered in public.

    ICCPR, Article 14.1.

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 1Article 2%viol_ctcidp_2%.

About this Case

The execution of Mr. Farhad Vakili, son of Mohammad Sa'id, former deputy head of the office of Agricultural Jihad Organization in Sanandaj, was announced by the public relations department of Tehran's Public and Revolution Courts, and posted on several news websites, including ISNA (9 May), Green Movement (10 May and 6 June), Committee of Human Rights Reporters (9 May and 6 June), Fars news agency (17 May), [and] Center for Iranian Political Prisoners in Exile (7 June), of 2010. Information concerning his arrest and case have been extracted from Amnesty International (12 January), Organization of Revolutionary Workers of Iran [Rahekargar] (26 February) Amir Kabir Newsletter (26 February), 2010 [and] Human Rights Watch of Kurdistan (30 September) 2007. Additional information has been taken from Kurdane Radio (28 May 2010), Rojpress (19 October 2011), and the testimony of Sabah Nasri, managing editor of 'Rojameh' and a former ward mate of Farhad Vakili, in an interview with Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (22 February 2011)

Mr. Vakili was popular among his fellow- prisoners. Sa'id Razavi-Faqih, who was with Mr. Vakili in Andarzgah (Correction Center) 7 of Evin, said: “he had the fortune of sharing a cell with Vakili. He added, "I had already heard a few things about his personality. But we became very close in our few days together, developing an emotional bond; I felt that I had made one of my best friendships in Evin Prison. Farhad was a very rational, reasonable person who managed to keep his emotions in check in the sphere of politics. He was a person of moral integrity. Contrary to what many might have assumed, his objectives were altruistic rather than personal. I remember Farhad's smile. During all our discussions, be they about the Iranian society, Kurdistan, political, or social, he always wore a smile. I never saw him appearing cold, despondent or bitter. He saw a bright future for our society although he believed that we inevitably had to pay a price to attain freedom, equality, awareness and a bright future. Farhad always told me with a smile that he was not affected by the tortures and pressures. He said he he had never let himself become more radical because of the tortures and pressures, and that he would not give in to feelings of revenge towards his torturers. Nor had he allowed his feelings give way to revenge towards his torturers and prison guards.”

Arrest and detention

The public relations department of Tehran's Public and Revolution Courts announced: "The search squad of Police Precinct 116 of Molavi [street of Tehran] grew suspicious of two individuals standing next to a Paykan [Iranian-manufactured car], during their patrol on 19 August 2006. On spotting the police officers, the two individuals fled the scene. One of them, called Peyman, whose real name was later found to be Kaveh, was arrested, while the other, named Kamal, escaped. After searching the vehicle, the officers found five kilograms of explosives planted under the driver's seat. The officers went to the two individuals' residence, arresting Farzad Kamangar. According to the same sources, Farhad Vakili was arrested on 13 September 2006 after letters rogatory were issued to the city of Sanandaj.

Regarding circumstances of the arrests of Ali Heidarian, Farhad Vakili, and Farzad Kamanger, Human Rights Watch of Kurdistan reported, on 20 October 2007, that three Kurdish prisoners (Farzad Kamangar, Farhad Vakili, and Ali Heidarian), who had been in detention for over 14 months, had been barred from receiving visitors for about a month.

Mr. Sabah Nasri and Mr. Razavi Faqih talked about Mr. Vakili’s torture referring to the information he shared with them. According to the testimony of Sabah Nasri, another of his ward mates, Farhad had a congenital problem in his right leg. So the torturers would tie his right leg to a chair and his left leg to a door handle; they would then keep opening and closing the door. The action was so tortuous that he would almost lose consciousness in the process. According to Mr. Vakili himself he spent “days, weeks and months of enduring solitary confinement, constant pressure of interrogations and lack of news from my family” Also his other ward mate, Sa'id Razavi-Faqih, told Kurdane Radio said: "Farhad told me about the coercions he had endured in Raja'ishahr Prison in Karaj. And about how interrogators would put pressure on him to confess to involvement in armed operations, whereas he had never taken part in any armed operations."

In various prisons, Mr. Vakili wrote in a letter sent from Evin Prison: "After some two years had passed since my arrest I once again had the pleasure of being taken to the secretive Ward 209 of the Intelligence Ministry. It brought back memories of my first day in Ward 209; a time when after enduring the harshest of inhuman acts by the Intelligence Department in Sanandaj, I was transferred to Ward 209 to be subjected to an even harsher ordeal. I came face-to-face with so-called interrogators who proudly boasted about their years of interrogation techniques to frighten and intimidate me and to convince me that no-one would be able to keep any secrets in that ward.”

According to Mr. Vakili the interriogators’ new techniques was to treat him respectfully in order to make him ask for pardon. Mr. Vakili said: “He insisted that for me, who should be executed for the crime of having certain beliefs and creeds, there was only one way out, and that was to appeal for amnesty from the Iranian authorities.”After days, weeks and months of enduring solitary confinement, constant pressure of interrogations and lack of news from my family ... a return to Ward 209, where I was subjected to fresh interrogation techniques, made me wonder if many things had changed. This time I was facing my interrogators; there were no blindfolds and the interrogator had no fear of being seen by me. I could even argue with him under relatively fairer conditions. Even the outward appearance of the expert (the same interrogator) had changed. This time, I was facing someone who enjoyed reading and was literate.

After several interrogation sessions, when he felt that unlike his colleagues he could establish a close relationship with me, he [interrogator] mooted his main demand, i.e.: "request for amnesty." He insisted that for me, who should be executed for the crime of having certain beliefs and creeds, there was only one way out, and that was to appeal for amnesty from the Iranian authorities... The expectation was that by signing an amnesty request I would renege on all my beliefs. They told me that nothing could be the truth per se and that it could only become truth with their command. They wanted me to be a being devoid of any resolve, moral fibre, social and historical identity... It took days, weeks and months before it dawned on them that I did not want to define my existence through relations with the ruling establishment... I did my utmost to make the bullies and despots understand that their objective would ultimately prove unattainable." (Organization of Revolutionary Workers of Iran [Rahekargar])

Sa'id Pour-Heydar, one of Farhad Vakili's ward mates says the following about him: ":” (he was)In Ward 350, he acted as the ward's lawyer and was very popular with the inmates; the ward's lawyer is the inmates' liaison with ward officials. That is why everyday his name was called out through loudspeakers. Every time a new prisoner enters the ward, the ward's lawyer must take him to his cell. The ward lawyer is the prison guard's point of contact. Now imagine the fear and dread that takes over a person who has been sentenced to death, and his ward mates, every time his name is called out, in the knowledge that it could be the call for his execution.Farhad was in prison for four years, living under constant stress and trepidation, and away from his home and family. He had become weary of the situation; he was frustrated at the wait and being in a state of limbo. Once when a few inspectors were visiting Ward 350, he asked them why there was a delay in his execution.”

Trial

There is no available information about the court session or sessions. The cases of Farhad Vakili and two other defendants were heard at Branch 30 of Tehran's Revolution Court, on 30 January 2008. According to human rights organizations in Iran, the trial and sentencing of Farhad Vakili and the other two defendants took seven minutes. Mr. Khalil Bahramian, the lawyer of the two other defendants who were tried with Mr. Heidaian, confirmed Mr. Heidaria’s statements about the court. According to him, the court spent only 10 minutes to ask the defendants basic questions like their names, etc. Their lawyer was never allowed to speak. According to Mr. Bahramian: “When I told the judge I have something to say (as the lawyer), he said write it on a piece of paper, I want to to go in order to say my prayers. (so) he did not even listen to me.”

Charges

Farhad Vakili and two other defendants, all of whom were executed at the same time, were charged with "moharebeh [waging war against God] through engaging in active operations for mini groups opposed to the system, as well as possession and smuggling of weapons and ammunition." According to human rights sources and also according to people who were arrested with Mr. Vakili, they were all charged with connection with P.K.K.

The the public relations department of Tehran's Public and Revolution Courts stated unlike others stated that Mr. Vakili was part of PJAK. According to this statement Mr. Vakili had : linked s” with PJAK and fundraising for the mini group as an intermediary."

Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.) was established in 1974 by Abdullah Ocalan. It was officially named P.K.K. in 1978. This party is engaged in an armed struggle with the Turkish Government since 1984. Its ideology is a mixture of socialism and Kurdish nationalism. Its declared aim is to establish an independent Kurdistan in the south of Turkey, north of Iraq and parts of Iran. In 1999, Abdullah Ocalan was arrested in Kenya and sentenced to life imprisonment. In 2000, the party declared that the party would only use political means. In its 8th congress in 2002, the party officially renounced its armed means and changed its name to Kurdistan Liberty and Democracy Congress (KADEK). In 2003, the party changed its name again to Kongra-Gel (KGK). It confirmed its peacefull intentions but continued its armed struggles in the context of self-defense. In June 2003, the People’s Defense Force (HPG) which has taken over the party since February 2003, renounced the 5-year cease fire with the government of Turkey.

PJAK is very similar in aimes and purpose to the P.K.K. Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK) which is a leftist organization, was established in January 2004 with the aim of creating "an ecological-democratic society and gender equality" within the framework of a democratic and federal government in Iran where autonomy is granted to all ethnic minorities. It held its first congress on 25 April 2004. The party, led by Abdul Rahman Haji Ahmadi, has a very close relationship with the PKK Party in Turkey, and regards Apo "Abdullah Ocalan" as its spiritual leader. PJAK's influence is mainly over the northern parts of Iranian Kurdistan, where it is engaged in an armed struggle against the Islamic Republic. PJAK refers to Iranian Kurdistan as East Kurdistan.

Evidence of guilt

The public relations department of Tehran's Public and Revolution Courts claimed to have the following evidence against Farhad Vakili and two other defendants: "A total of 10 kilograms of explosives were found on the defendants at the time of arrest, and another 12 kilograms [of explosives] as well as 15 detonators and two grenades were discovered in the home of Farhad Vakili. Also found in the homes of the defendants were 57 RPG bullets, 600 light arms' cartridges, 700 Persian translations of a book by PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, 300 posters of the mini group's leaders, and 300 propaganda pamphlets and literature." This statement added: "Farhad Vakili has acknowledged links with Farzad Kamangar. He has confessed to having acquired literature, including the codebook found in his home, from PJAK via a person called Kamal. He has also confessed to links with PJAK and fundraising for the mini group as an intermediary."

Defense

There is no precise information concerning the defendant's statements of defense. In part of his letter from Evin Prison, Mr Vakili wrote: "... the new team of interrogators acknowledged that the security apparatus has, contrary to the truth and in the course of a totally political process, put pressure on the judicial system of Iran to sentence me to death. And now the only way for me to be saved and for them to redress their mistake is that I appeal for an amnesty." In another part of the letter he says: "Requesting a pardon and amnesty for a crime that I have not committed ... makes me feel that the two sides have failed to understand each other …and that we have only dealt with one another within the framework of prejudices and on the same old grounds. The system regarded me as an element that was against peace; they saw me as trespassing on their security, hence unlikely to give in. The system believed that I had no rights and must only sing its praises for being able to live my life under its rule.".…

There is no information whatsoever if the court considers the probability of Mr. Vakili’s torture or took any meassures to address that issue.

Based on the testimony of Sabah Nasri, one of the ward mates of Mr Vakili, they had leveled many charges against him and the three others who were executed at the same time, yet the Intelligence Ministry did not have any documents to corroborate those charges; nor had any of the defendants confessed. Ultimately, the Intelligence Ministry managed to impose its will based on reports from its intelligence branches in the defendants' home towns.

A Summary of the Legal Defects in Mr. Farhad Vakili’s Case

Although Iran’s judicial authorities do not publish documents and information regarding cases that are considered to have political and security bases, and simply issue one-sided and general statements, the information contained in Mr. Farhad Vakili’s case (including his own statements as well those of his family and prison mates) indicate a lack of due process here.

Mr. Vakili’s prison mates confirm that they had seen signs of torture on his body. According to published information, Iranian security officials intended to obtain a forced confession by putting pressure on Mr. Vakili and by torturing him. This is while under Iranian law, torture and duress of the defendant is illegal and considered a crime, and confessions obtained in this manner are without credence and legal value. Principle 38 of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Constitution provides in this regard: “All forms of torture for the purpose of extracting confession or acquiring information are forbidden. Compulsion of individuals to testify, confess, or take an oath is not permissible; and any testimony, confession, or oath obtained under duress is devoid of value and credence. Violators of this article shall be punished in accordance with the law.” Like the Constitution, the law for Respecting Legitimate Freedoms and Safeguarding Citizens Rights of 2004-05, Paragraph 9 also provides: “All forms of torture of the defendant for the purpose of extracting confession or forcing him/her to do other acts are forbidden and confessions obtained in this way are devoid of legal and religious credence.” It was therefore necessary for the court to conduct the requisite investigations into whether the defendant had been tortured or not, an issue to which it has certainly paid no attention whatsoever.

The revolutionary court tried Mr. Vakili on the charge of Moharebeh and Efsad fel-Arz. He made no confession at the revolutionary court. According to his attorney, he was not allowed to speak in court and was simply asked about his personal information. It is therefore clear that the revolutionary court judge issued a ruling solely based on the report made by security officials and did not personally ask the defendant for a statement. In crimes that carry Hadd punishments, however, the method of proof is limited and specific. Either the defendant must make a confession before the judge (which is not the case here) or the crime must be proven based on witness testimony fulfilling legal requirements (and there are no witnesses in this case). Additionally, there is no convincing evidence that could have resulted in the “judge’s knowledge”. Therefore, given the attorney’s statements and those of Mr. Vakili’s co-defendants that the trial only lasted seven minutes and no one was allowed to speak or defend themselves, it seems that the judge took only the security officials’ reports into account and issued a ruling outside the framework of regulations regarding presentation and submission of evidence.

Judgment

The Revolutionry court of Tehran sentenced Mr Vakili to death and a 10-year prison term. The verdict was upheld by the State Supreme Court.

He was hanged on 9 May 2010 in Evin Prison without the knowledge of his lawyer and family and even before his prison sentence was finished.According to Sa'id Pour-Heydar, one of his ward mates, around middle of May, Mr Vakili was playing volleyball with his ward mates when his name was called out from loudspeakers: "Mr Vakili! Mr Vakili! Please report to the prison guard." Drenched in sweat from playing volleyball, he told us to carry on with the game until his return. He did not say goodbye and he never returned." According to0 Mr. Pour-Heydar, the telephones of ward 350 of Evin, in which Mr. Vakili was held, were out of service at the day of Mr. Vakili and three others’ execution and they remained out of service for 2 days afterward.

Families of prisoners executed at the same time as Mr Vakili came to Tehran from Kordestan to protest about the execution of their loved ones who were put to death without the knowledge of their lawyers or families. They described the executions as illegal and in contravention of the most basic human rights. Upon hearing the news of his execution, Farhad's sister said: "They caught us totally unawares. They caught us all unawares." As for his father, the news of his son's execution gave him such a shock that he died as a result.

The bodies of Vakili and the other executed victims were never given to their families, but they were secretly buried. The families of those executed at the same time as Farhad Vakili met with the governor-general of Kordestan 2nd June 2010 and asked for the bodies of their loved ones. The governor-general of Kordestan responded by saying: "Those executed have been buried in a location which, for security reasons, we are not at liberty to disclose. The authorities will inform you of the location once some time has passed and the circumstances are right." He also said that he would ask for forgiveness for the executees in the other world which saddened the families of the victims. In the wake of that meeting, security and intelligence forces contacted the victims' families threatening them with arrest should they embark on more such meetings.

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