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

Jalal Zahedi (Khoshkhan)


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


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

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 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.

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

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. 


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). 


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). 


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. 


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. 


* 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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