Prosecutor Provides Latest on Post-Election Death Sentences

Compares Recent Execution of Five Political Prisoners to 1988 Massacre

Threatens Reformist Leaders with Prosecution for Questioning Recent Executions

(17 May 2010) Following strong condemnations of the secret execution of five political prisoners on 9 May, Tehran’s Prosecutor General, Abbas Jaafari Dowlatabadi, continued to defend these executions as terrorism related while failing to provide any convincing new evidence to support the official claims.

On 16 May, Dowlatabadi, in an interview published by Fars News Agency, also confirmed the names and the latest situation of eleven post-election protesters prosecuted on charges of Moharebeh [enmity towards God], which is punishable by death under Iranian law.

Regarding the well-publicized case of Mohammad Amin Valian, a 20- year- old student sentenced to death by a lower court for throwing three rocks during a protest, Dowlatabadi announced that the appeals court has rejected the charge of Moharebeh and sentenced him to a three- and- a half year prison sentence and a fine of $300 (3 million Rials).

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran welcomes the reversal of Valian’s unjust and outrageous sentence but calls for his release, as he has committed no crime justifying a harsh prison sentence.

“This reversal is an admission of the arbitrary nature of rulings by judges. The lower court judge who sentenced Valian to death should be immediately suspended and all prosecutions of post-election protesters should be reviewed,” said Hadi Ghaemi, the Campaign’s spokesperson.

Dowlatabadi also provided the following information regarding the other ten protesters on death row:

• The appeals court has confirmed the death sentences of Mohamamd Ali Saremi, Jafar Kazemi, and Mohammad Ali Haj Aghaei, implying that their execution could be carried out at anytime. He accused the three as “sympathizers” of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO), without clarifying what violent acts committed by them resulted in their execution sentences.
• The death sentences of Ahmad Daneshpour Moghadam, Mohsen Daneshpour Moghadam, and Alireza Ghanbari’s have been confirmed by the appeals court, but they have requested a “pardon.” He accused them as “sympathizers” of MKO. He did not indicate if a “pardon” has been granted.
• Motahareh Bahrami Haghighi, Rayhaneh Haj Ebrahim Dabagh, and Hadi Ghaemi (no relation to the Campaign’s spokesperson of the same name), sentenced to death by a lower court, have been sentenced to imprisonment at the appeals stage. He did not specify the length of their prison sentences.
• Mohammad Amin Valian and Arsalan Abadi have been acquitted of the charge of Moharebeh and sentenced to prison terms.

In his interview, Dowlatabadi defended the recent execution of five political prisoners and threatened the presidential candidate, Mir Hussein Mousavi, with prosecution because he had publicly questioned the credibility of evidence leading to these executions. He also compared these executions to the massacre of thousands of political prisoners in 1988,indicating their political nature.

“In those years [1988] when based on the orders of Imam Khomeini executions were carried out, he [Mousavi] was the prime minister. If he challenges the recent executions why did he serve back then? He has no right to question these executions and make enemies of the Islamic system happy,” Dowlatabadi said.

While on the one hand Dowlatabadi rejected the timing of recent executions with political tensions building up ahead of the June 12 anniversary of last year’s disputed presidential election, he said, “The fact that these sentences weren’t implemented since their issuance over the last few years doesn’t mean they were wrongly issued. They were not implemented for certain reasons and now the Judiciary chose to implement them.”

Dowlatabadi charged Mousavi with “propagation of falsehoods” in challenging the basis for the executions and said that in a future prosecution of Mousavi, this charge will be brought up.

He explicitly tied Mousavi’s future prosecution with political calculations and expediency by saying, “Many of the positions taken by Mousavi and the other defeated presidential candidate (Karoubi) are equivalent to committing crimes under the law. But the Islamic system, in pursing these charges, acts based on certain interests. We have postponed action to appropriate and expedient time.”

He also announced that final sentences in the cases of 217 post-election protesters have been issued.

The Campaign calls for an independent investigation and review of all post-election sentences, including the execution sentences. The Campaign believes these prosecutions have been politically motivated and lacking in observance of the minimal standards of justice and due process, both under Iranian and international law.