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

Jalal Zahedi (Khoshkhan)

About

Age: 26
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam (Shi'a)
Civil Status: Single

Case

Date of Killing: December 3, 2012
Location: Kermanshah, Kermanshah Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Age at time of offense: 23

About this Case

was a wrestler and had participated in several wrestling championships.

Abdorrahman Boroumand Center was informed of the news of the execution of Mr. Jalal Zahedi, 26, son of Minoo and Alireza, through independent research and the center’s interview with one of Mr. Zahedi’s acquaintances (October 10, 2017).

Mr. Zahedi, known as Khoshkhan, was a Shiite and a bachelor who was from Islamabad-e Gharb in Kermanshah Province, where he also used to live. He had a diploma in mechanics, was self-employed, and occasionally traded in crops. Mr. Zahedi was a simple and generous person and had a good relationship with his acquaintances. He was a bodybuilder and an amateur wrestler who participated in wrestling championships a few times.

According to the available information, the case of Mr. Zahedi pertains to sexual crimes. He had a prior criminal record. 

Arrest and detention

On March 2, 2009 a woman filed a complaint against Mr. Zahedi for abduction and rape at the provincial Ministry of Justice office of Sarpol-e Zahab. Following the complaint, and consequent to the order of the provincial Criminal Court of Islamabad-e Gharb, Mr. Zahedi was prosecuted. He was eventually arrested by the agents of the Police Force of Intelligence and Public Security of Islamabad-e Gharb in the transportation terminal of the city at 5 PM on July 3, 2011. Mr. Zahedi carried a knife on his person when he was arrested. He threw his cell phone amidst the crowd in the terminal so that the police could not get access to its contents. The agents were unable to find the cell phone amidst the crowd.

Sometime after she had filed a complaint against Mr. Zahedi, the plaintiff signed an affidavit in the Notary Office No. 138 in Islamabad-e Gharb on March 15, 2009 and retracted her complaint. However, after Mr. Zahedi was arrested, she filed a second complaint against him at the provincial Ministry of Justice office of Sarpol-e Zahab County.

According to one of Mr. Zahedi’s acquaintances, after encircling Mr. Zahedi, the plainclothes agents of the police force arrested him without producing any arrest warrant. Mr. Zahedi resisted arrest.

Mr. Zahedi was moved to Islamabad-e Gharb Central Prison on July 4, 2011. He made contact with his family two days after his arrest, and met them in person one month later.

The family of Mr. Zahedi hired two lawyers for him on July 31, 2011. He met the lawyers once in prison. 

Trial

Mr. Zahedi went on trial for the first time in the provincial Criminal Court of Islamabad-e Gharb on July 4, 2011. During the first session of his trial he denied the charges against him and said that he had only been in touch with the plaintiff on the phone and with the intention of marrying her. He also vehemently denied any connection with the other plaintiff in the case. The second session of Mr. Zahedi’s trial was held on August 8, 2011. In this session the Public Prosecutor of Islamabad-e Gharb and Mr. Zahedi’s lawyers were also present in addition to the judges and the jury. According to the available information, the plaintiff, due to “ethical considerations and in view of the traditions of the region,” would not attend the court. Mr. Zahedi’s family and witnesses who had gone to the court to testify in favor of him were not allowed to attend the trial session (ABC interview). 

Charges

Mr. Zahedi was charged with “forced rape, participation in abduction, threat to murder, profanity and illicit relations.” The accusation against him was that on February 21, 2010, after threating the victim with a knife in the Ahmad Ben Eshaq neighborhood of Sarpol-e Zahab, he had forcefully dragged her into the Peugeot car of his friend and taken her to his house on Moallem Street and kept her there for two days. Mr. Zahedi was accused of then having rendered the victim unconscious by putting a drug in her orange juice and eventually raping her. Mr. Zahedi was alleged to have recorded the rape and then to have used the film to threaten the victim into leaving her husband for him.

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

Mr. Zahedi’s knife and cell phone were two pieces of evidence of guilt that were entered against him. According to the contents of the case, these were also among the evidence of guilt entered against Mr. Zahedi: 1) the complaint of the plaintiff; 2) the court’s view of the forensic office’s opinion regarding lack of signs of violence in the sexual relationship due to the married status of the plaintiff as well as her lack of resistance due to Mr. Zahedi’s threats and the effect of the anesthetics; 3) the outcome of the local investigation by the court members regarding the plaintiff and the statements of her former husband, her sister-in-law, her son, and the agents of the police force of Sarpol-e Zahab validating the statements of the plaintiff; 4) Mr. Zahedi’s rejection of the charges at court and his lack of convincing and effective defense when answering the court’s multiple questions, merely; 5) the previous criminal record of Mr. Zahedi including precedent with a similar crime; 6) the report of the police authorities, the local offices of the Ministry of Intelligence and the IRGC Intelligence branch in Islamabad-e Gharb regarding Mr. Zahedi as a blatant example of sedition due to his history of raping other individuals and their refusal to file complaints against him due to his threats and their fear of him and their fear of losing face in public; 7) lack of effective defense by Mr. Zahedi’s lawyers; 8) Mr. Zahedi’s propensity to commit sexual crimes according to the judge’s knowledge; 9) the report of the Office of Identification; and 10) the review of the previous cases involving Mr. Zahedi and his confessions in those cases.

According to the available information, on July 10, 2011 an unidentified individual went to an agent of the IRGC Intelligence who owned a shop for fixing cell phones and gave him a cell phone, saying that the cell phone belonged to his brother Jalal who had been arrested by the IRGC Intelligence. The unidentified individual asked the shop owner to clear the memory of the cell phone in a way that the contents would not be retrievable. Instead, the shop owner handed in the cell phone to the IRGC Intelligence, and its memory was sent to the court as evidence of guilt against Mr. Zahedi. The film that depicted Mr. Zahedi and the plaintiff sleeping together was among the contents of the cell phone memory. In the film, Mr. Zahedi, saying sacrilegious things, demanded that the plaintiff divorce her husband to be with him (ABC independent research). 

Defense

Mr. Zahedi pleaded not guilty in the court. His lawyers stated in the court that “First, if the court intends to act upon its knowledge, the judge’s knowledge is of no value because the evidence for proving this crime [rape] has been considered in the law. Second, the authenticity of the available film against Mr. Zahedi has not been approved by experts. Third, the issue of Mr. Zahedi pushing the plaintiff for a divorce is only the plaintiff’s claim, and Mr. Zahedi’s flight is no indication of his crime. His flight stemmed from various mental and spiritual factors including fear of being put on trial.” In addition, the forensic officer did not validate the claim that the sexual relationship had been accompanied with violence (ABC independent research).

According to one of Mr. Zahedi’s acquaintances, the relationship between Mr. Zahedi and the plaintiff was meant for marriage, and the plaintiff had frequently visited Mr. Zahedi’s and his relatives’ houses. The plaintiff, while being married, had told Mr. Zahedi that she had separated from her husband, and Mr. Zahedi was not aware of the fact that the plaintiff was married. According to this informed source, the plaintiff would sometimes spend more than ten days in Mr. Zahedi’s house and no one would go after her. In addition, the film that showed Mr. Zahedi and the plaintiff sleeping together was taken in a private and consensual manner and had never been publicized. The film does not show Mr. Zahedi’s face (ABC interview).

According to an acquaintance, the authorities would not allow those who had gone to the court to testify in Mr. Zahedi’s favor to attend the trial. The court also threatened Mr. Zahedi’s lawyer with revocation of his license if he took up Mr. Zahedi’s case, because in the court’s opinion Mr. Zahedi was “mofsed-e fel arz” (sower of corruption on earth) (ABC interview).

The plaintiff visited three different notary offices on March 15, 2009, March 15, 2010, and August 13, 2012 and formally denied any kind of abduction by and forced sexual relationship with Mr. Zahedi, retracting any previous claims regarding Mr. Zahedi’s case. She denied the truth of the claims of abduction and rape and said that her husband had forced her to file a complaint against Mr. Zahedi (ABC independent research).

According to an informed source, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Islamabad-e Gharb, given his personal antipathy towards Mr. Zahedi, had threatened the plaintiff that if she consented to Mr. Zahedi’s release he would instead sentence her to stoning. One incident in Mr. Zahedi’s criminal record pertained to the niece of the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Court. In addition, the head of the provincial Ministry of Justice office of Kermanshah Province had threatened Mr. Zahedi’s family due to their follow ups on his case. 

A Summary of the Defects of Mr. Jalal Zahedi's Legal Proceedings

For proving crimes that result in corporal punishment including adultery, Iran’s criminal code foresees stricter standards of evidence. As such, a great number of judges believe that adultery can only be proved after the accused has confessed four times or four witnesses have given testimony against him/her. In this case, the defendant never confessed to adultery, and there is no evidence in the case to indicate that he committed adultery either. The main evidence of the court was the film that was discovered in the defendant’s cell phone. In Iranian law, especially in proving crimes that call for corporal punishment, film and sound are only regarded as subsidiary evidence and by no means constitute main evidence. The validity of film was denied by the defendant, and it was not even sent to an expert for investigation.

On the other hand, adultery as defined in Iranian law occurs when an individual forces another individual to have sex with them. The documents in this case show that the plaintiff had had an ongoing relationship with the defendant for a long time, and that they used to constantly call each other on the phone. These communications were cited during the trial, and the authorities said that because they amounted to 1000 pages they would not be mentioned in the court verdict. The frequency and high volume of these communications demonstrate that the defendant and the plaintiff were in touch for a long time, which makes the claim of rape untenable. As such, the court should have conducted a more comprehensive investigation into the case for rape.

Another problem is that the plaintiff had retracted her complaint multiple times and admitted that the defendant had not committed adultery. Although the retraction and admittance of the plaintiff would not dispel the charge from a legal standpoint, nevertheless the court could have taken the admittance into account in the proceedings. If the judges believed that the admittance had been made under duress, it would have been necessary for them to prove with evidence and detail that duress had been used. 

Judgment

On August 9, 2011 the provincial Criminal Court of Islamabad-e Gharb, with reference to Note D of Article 82 of the old Islamic Criminal Code*, sentenced Mr. Jalal Zahedi to public execution in the main square of Islamabad-e Gharb. On November 7, 2012 Branch 13 of the Supreme Court, with reference to Note A of Article 265 of the criminal law**, confirmed Mr. Zahedi’s verdict.

According to an informed individual, during November/December of 2012, someone called Mr. Zahedi’s family via an unknown number and told them that Mr. Zahedi’s sentence had been scheduled to be carried out, but it had been postponed. A week after that call, on the day of Mr. Zahedi’s execution, while his family was still following up on his case in court, Mr. Zahedi was moved to the location for execution without his family’s knowledge.

Mr. Zahedi was publicly hanged under the Garage Bridge in Kermanshah’s Azadi Square at 8 AM on December 3, 2012 without the knowledge of his family and lawyers. His family were informed of his execution on the evening of the same day.

According to one of Mr. Zahedi’s acquaintances, after his family had been handed his corpse from the morgue in Kermanshah, they took it to Islamabad-e Gharb for burial. However, at the decree of the Revolutionary Court of Kermanshah, the authorities would not allow Mr. Zahedi’s family to bury his body in Islamabad-e Gharb and hold a funeral ceremony for him. Mr. Zahedi’s family was eventually forced to bury him in Emamzadeh Hassan Village. 

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* Article 82 -In the following cases the hadd punishment for zina is the death penalty and there is no distinction between young and old or between married or unmarried:        
   (d)   Zina committed by coercion or force [i.e. rape]; in which case, the man who committed zina by coercion or force shall be sentenced to the death penalty.

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