Rumors of Scheduled Execution for Kurdish Activist are False, Says Lawyer
Reports circulating in late March during Iranian New Year about the imminent execution of Shirkoo Moarefi, a 31-year-old Kurdish political and civil activist from Baneh who was arrested in November 2008 at the Iran-Iraq border, have been denied by Ahmad Saeed Sheikhi, Moarefi’s lawyer. Moarefi was sentenced to death in a lower Revolutionary Court in the city of Saghez on charges of “membership in the Komalah Party,” “actions against national security,” and “enmity with God.” He is currently being held in Saghez Prison. Sheikhi told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that the inaccurate news of his client’s scheduled execution has caused serious concern for the activist and his family.
“Contrary to rumors, nothing has been finalized yet. The file is at the judicial review stage and both myself and Shirkoo are hoping to stop the sentence. We don’t know how rumors about Shirkoo’s execution were disseminated over the [Iranian New Year] holidays; news that has really upset his family. The accurate news is that he is not going to be executed yet,” Sheikhi said.
“After our request for another review of the case was accepted, the case was referred to Branch 27 of Qom’s Courts. Last Wednesday, when I last visited the courts, I was told that the case not been reviewed yet. This means that his death sentence has not been finalized yet and we are still following up on the case review with hope,” Sheikhi said about the current status of Moarefi’s case.
“After the lower Revolutionary Court in Saghez issued the death sentence, unfortunately Branch 4 of the Appeals Court upheld the death sentence. But we immediately requested a review of the case, which was not accepted. We then asked for implementation of Article 18, based on the fact that my client deserved a judicial review based on Article 18. This request was then sent to the Prosecutor General’s Office and he accepted the request. In the end, the case was sent to the Head of the Judiciary’s office and he ordered a review of the trial. The review was then sent to a lateral provincial appeals court, but the court announced that it was not qualified to review this case and that the review had to take place at the Supreme Court,” Sheikhi explained.
“In October 2010, the case was forwarded to the Supreme Court and after ten days it was referred to Branch 27 of Qom’s Courts. Now we are waiting for the judicial review,” he added.
Sheikhi told the Campaign that he has been able to meet his client two or three times inside Saghez Prison. “My client has not accepted and does not accept the ‘enmity with God’ charge. I don’t accept it either; if I did, I would not accept his representation and I wouldn’t interview about it. Fortunately, at this stage the authorities have accepted that this case needs a judicial review,” he added.
Currently, other Kurdish activists including Habibollah Latifi, Zanyar Moradi, and Loghman Moradi have been charged with ‘enmity with God’ and sentenced to death.