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

Zakaria Rigi


Age: 27
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam (Sunni)
Civil Status: Single


Date of Execution: March 18, 2012
Location: Zahedan Prison, Zahedan, Sistan Va Baluchestan Province, Iran
Mode of Execution: Death in custody
Charges: Murder
Age at time of offense: 21

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 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, as a member of a religious or ethnic minority, to enjoy one’s own culture or to profess and practice one’s own religion.


UDHR, Article 18; ICCPR, Article 27.

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 appeal to a court of higher jurisdiction.

ICCPR, Article 14.5.

  • The right to seek pardon or commutation of sentence.

ICCPR, Article 6.4.

  • The right not to be tried or punished again for an offence for which one has already been

convicted or acquitted.

ICCPR, Article 14.7.

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

He was a single, 21-year-old Sunni Moslem of Baluch ethnicity from the city of Zahedan. He was protective of other people’s rights and could not stand to see them be subjected to injustice.

News of Mr. Zakaria Rigi’s death was reported to the Boroumand Center on January 18, 2018, by one of his relatives. Additional information was given to the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center in the course of an interview with this person, who has knowledge of the case.

Mr. Zakaria Rigi, child of Mohammad Azim and Mehri, was a single, 21 year-old-man at the time of his arrest. He was a Sunni Moslem and an ethnic Baluch from the city of Zahedan. He had three brothers and was the family’s second child. Mr. Rigi was an intelligent, kind, and religious man who had grown up in a religious family. His father had a high school diploma and owned a stationery store in [the town of] Mirjaveh. He had lived with his maternal grandparents in Zahedan ever since he was an adolescent. Mr. Rigi was a high school student majoring in mathematics and physics, and spent time at the local mosque teaching the Koran. His behavior and conduct were exemplary. He was a good student and would always get a high ranking at school with a good grade point average. According to people close to him, he was protective of other people’s rights and could not stand to see them be subjected to injustice.

Mr. Rigi’s case was related to the killing of a man in the course of a mass altercation at a mosque in Zahedan, but he died in custody. 

Arrest and detention

On February 12, 2006 (approximate date), Mr. Rigi went to the tribe’s elder for consultation upon his father’s recommendation and accompanied by him, and subsequently turned himself in to Mirjaveh police.

Mr. Rigi had told his friends that he did not wish the murder victim’s blood to have been spilled in vain [and for the killing to go unpunished], and had therefore turned himself in to the Mirjaveh Police. He was subsequently taken to the Zahedan Criminal Investigations Bureau located at Shahnaz Alley. He came face to face with the victim’s parents at the Zahedan Criminal Investigations Bureau and told them: “I am at your disposal. Do whatever you want with me and whatever you think is expedient.”

According to a person with knowledge of the case, Mr. Rigi had been treated well at the Zahedan Criminal Investigations Bureau because he had confessed everything. The head of the Bureau had told him “we have conducted investigations and we know you were not alone” and had asked him to name his friends, but Mr. Rigi had said that he had acted alone.

Mr. Rigi was taken to Zahedan Central Prison two days later, where he was incarcerated for six years. He was allowed to visit with his mother after a month for fifteen minutes. He had worn black clothing and had grown a beard; he looked so frail and weak that his mother didn’t recognize him. His hands were severely shaking. He asked his mother to pray for him and told her that he had started to re-read the Koran.

The head of the prison’s Information Protection Section hit him in the head with an electric club and threw him in a solitary confinement cell as he was bleeding profusely from the head.

Mr. Rigi was kept at Zahedan Central Prison’s Ward 6. He was the prison mosque’s prayer leader and taught the Koran there, which required him to always be ablated, a difficult task as the prison water was always cold. According to available information, Mr. Rigi did not have many amenities in prison. He and the other prisoners were forced to procure their necessities on their own. He was not allowed to make sufficient use of the telephone and the authorities would sometimes cut off his phone access. Prison officials had once beaten him so badly that his kidneys had been hurt. His family had gone to the Judiciary Branch in Tehran and requested that he be allowed to be sent to the hospital for treatment, but the Zahedan Revolutionary Court had prevented his dispatch to the hospital in spite of a letter [from the Judiciary Branch] to that effect. His family would obtain his medication but even then, they were not given to him on time.

Mr. Rigi thought about the people around him and was helpful to others. That was why he had a good reputation among the prisoners. If he got any money from his family, he would share it with the prisoners in need.

Mr. Rigi was persecuted by prison authorities during his incarceration. For instance, they had put pressure on him to shave his beard off and had put limits on his attendance at the mosque. According to a person close to him, the main reason for the persecution was that he was an adherent of Sunni Islam.

According to information available from various prisons in different time periods, Sunni Moslem prisoners are sometimes discriminated against. They are persecuted because of their appearance, which is in line with their religion’s requirements, and for performing their religious rites; the authorities force them to trim their beards by insulting them and using offensive language.  For instance, it was reported that the former head of [the city of] Mashhad’s Vakilabad Prison’s Ward 6.1 “was constantly on the case of Sunni Mowlavis (the term “Mowlavi” literally means “our master”; here, it means “religious leader”) telling them to trim their beards. They would respond that their religion required them to have a beard long enough to fit into a closed fist, whereupon he would say ‘your beard depresses us’… The beard of a Mowlavi that was in the same ward with me and has been transferred to Torbat-e Jaam Prison, was trimmed by force, and he was crying the entire time they were cutting it off.” (International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, April 11, 2011). In another case, Zahedan Prison’s Warden belittled and insulted Mowlavi Amanollah Baluchi, Zahedan Central Prison’s Ward 3 Prayer Room’s prayer leader, telling him: “Either you trim your beard yourself or we will do it for you.” This caused prisoners to protest. The same person had caused a prisoner riot in 2012-13 by insulting the sacred elements of Sunni Moslem’s faith; the prisoners had demanded that the prison warden resign. As a result, the protestors were quarantined one by one and subsequently sent into exile in prisons in other towns. (Baluch Activists Campaign, January 7, 2017).

In mid-March 2012, Mr. Rigi got into a scuffle with a prisoner he suspected of being an informant working for the prison warden. The reason for the fight was that Mr. Rigi believed that he was the person who had placed a knife under the bed of one of their religious leaders in prison, and had thus framed him, resulting in his exile to the city of Yazd. The head of the prison’s Information Protection separated them and was leading Mr. Rigi to the quarantine when the latter requested that he too be exiled to Yazd. The head of the prison’s Information Protection then hit him in the head with an electric club, and threw him into a solitary confinement cell as he was bleeding profusely from the head. The following day, that is, on March 18, several prisoners called Mr. Rigi’s family and told them that he had been killed.


Zahedan Revolutionary Court tried Mr. Rigi in the presence of his court-appointed attorney. No further detail is available about the trial session(s).


The charge brought against Mr. Rigi was said to have been “murder”. He was accused of having murdered a man during an altercation on the grounds of Zahedan’s Al-Ghadir Mosque.

Evidence of guilt

Mr. Rigi confessed to murder at the various stages of adjudication. Additionally, the murder victim’s body and the knife with which he had been stabbed were used as evidence against Mr. Rigi at trial.


Although Mr. Rigi confessed to murder, the evidence was not sufficient to prove the charges against him. According to a person with knowledge of the case, the head of the Criminal Investigations Bureau had told Mr. Rigi in the investigations stage: “Name your friends. We have conducted investigations and we know you had friends [that were involved].”

According to this person with knowledge of the case, the story was that, two or three days prior to Mr. Rigi’s arrest, at the same time as Ashura and Tasua (annual commemoration of Imam Hussein’s martyrdom, the fourth Imam in Shi’a Islam) (around February 9, 2006), a man and woman who were not related came to Al-Ghadir Mosque a few times, which raised objections by several Mosque-going youth. After giving the man a warning, the young men got into an altercation with him during which he was stabbed and wounded. The young men ran away and Mr. Rigi and the woman who accompanied the injured man, took the latter to the hospital. The woman, however, fled the hospital and Mr. Rigi left the hospital and went to his father’s home in Mirjaveh. The wounded man died at the hospital of severe hemorrhage. When Mr. Rigi’s friends learned of the man’s death, they called him on the phone several times, and subsequently went to him in Mirjaveh and asked him to put his hand on the Koran and swear that he would not turn them in to the police. Mr. Rigi’s father, who had become suspicious of his friends’ presence there, asked him what had happened, and Mr. Rigi told him the story.

According to available information Mr. Rigi did not allow his court-appointed lawyer to defend him.


The court sentenced Mr. Rigi to death (Qesas). Mr. Rigi’s family had talked to the victim’s family to forgive and forego Qesas in exchange for 50 million Tumans in Diah (“blood money”). They had been able to raise 35 million Tumans of the said amount with the help and support of local elders of Zahedan’s Makki Mosque, and were trying to raise the remaining 15 million Tumans.

Actions and Statements by Government Authorities

According to a person with knowledge of the case, prison officials denied for two days after Mr. Rigi’s death that he had died and claimed that the news of his passing was fabricated, and that he was alive and doing very well. After two days, however, they announced that he had committed suicide in prison. They finally turned Mr. Rigi’s body over to his family on March 20, 2012.

Based on available information, a group of prisoners rioted for several days in protest of Mr. Rigi’s killing; the riot was quashed violently by prison officials. For instance, they would tie the prisoners to barbed wire in order to punish them.

Based on available information, after the passage of several years, two investigating judges from Tehran went to Zahedan to meet with Mr. Rigi’s family, and interviewed one of his relatives about the circumstances of his death. They recorded the conversation and took it back [to Tehran]; however, nothing has come of it thus far.

The Family’s Objections and Statements

Following the calls by prisoners informing Mr. Rigi’s family of his killing while in the quarantine section, his family and relatives gathered in front of the prison and tried to obtain information from the officials. Prison officials told them, however, that the news of his death was a lie. Mr. Rigi’s relatives insisted that they wanted to meet with him to make sure that the news of his death was indeed a lie. They were kept in the dark for a while, and were told after two days that Mr. Rigi had committed suicide in jail.

According to a person with knowledge of the case, the prisoners had told the prison’s head of Information Protection: “You hit Mr. Rigi in the head with a club right in front of us. How do you now claim that he committed suicide?! He was not the type to kill himself! Suicide doesn’t stick to someone who was a mosque prayer leader and taught the Koran for 6 years and was one of the finest people in prison.”

Prison authorities denied his death at first, but told his family two days later that he had committed suicide in prison. 

According to available information, more than two thousand people attended Mr. Rigi’s burial, and many people, including his family and relatives, saw his body and witnessed that his head had been fractured and had bled, and that there were bruises on his back as a result of numerous blows. According to information obtained from witnesses, blood was still coming out of Mr. Rigi’s head while his body was being washed [in accordance with Islamic burial rituals]. Based on available information, Mr. Rigi’s family and relatives did not accept the Coroner’s report that he had committed suicide, and stated that it was inaccurate.

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