Appeals Court Upholds Verdicts of Panahi, Malekpour, Tajik
In the past few days the Tehran Appeals Court announced its upheld sentences for prisoners of conscience Abdolreza Tajik, Jafar Panahi, and Saeed Malekpour, without changing their lower court rulings. Documentary filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof, who was arrested along with Jafar Panahi on 29 February 2011, is the only suspect whose lower court ruling was reduced to one year in prison by the appeals court.
The death sentence of Saeed Malekpour, a Sharif Industrial University graduate who was arrested in 2008 by IRGC’s Cyber Army on the charge of “managing pornographic websites,” was upheld for the second time last week. According to BBC Persian, though Malekpour’s death sentence was overturned last June, Judge Moghisseh upheld the ruling again and Malekpour was informed of this on 19 October. Malekpour was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison followed by execution on charges of “propagating against the regime through designing pornographic websites,” “insulting sanctities,” “insulting the leader,” “insulting the president,” “contact with state enemy groups,” and “corruption on earth.”
Malekpour, 36, is a Material Science Engineer. From 2005, Malekpour worked as an internet web designer in Canada. In 2008, he was arrested when he returned to Iran to visit with his ailing father. In a published letter dated March 2008, Saeed Malekpour explained his forceful arrest without a warrant, immediately after which he was subjected to torture and physical abuse. Malekpour explained in the letter that he had been forced to sign confession documents on the day of his arrest without being allowed to read them. The Canadian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson has expressed concern about Malekpour’s death sentence.
The six-year prison sentence for Abdolreza Tajik. a political columnist for reformist newspapers, was also upheld at an Appeals Court. He was sentenced on 22 January 2011 to six years in prison in the lower court presided by Judge Pirabbasi. His charges were “propagating against the regime,” “acting against the regime,” “acting against national security,” and “membership in illegal groups.” Tajik was first arrested on 14 June 2009 and was released on bail 44 days later. Tajik was arrested again following the Ashura Day protests in December 2009 and spent two months inside Ward 209 of Evin Prison before he was released on bail. He was arrested for the third time on 12 June 2010 and was released on bail of $500,000 seven months later. During his third round of detention, he told his sister during a visitation that he had been “disrespected,” and asked the Tehran Prosecutor to pursue his situation. This grievance was never addressed. Tajik’s sister was sentenced to 1.5 years in prison for “propagating against the regime,” and “creating public anxiety.
The six-year prison sentence of Jafar Panahi, a prominent Iranian filmmaker, was also upheld by Branch 54 of Tehran Appeals Court on 15 October. According to the ruling, which is exactly the same as the lower court’s ruling, Panahi is sentenced to six years in prison for “acting against national security” and “propagating against the regime,” and to a 20-year ban on his cinema activities, as well as a 20-year ban on foreign travel and interviews with the media.
News about Panahi’s final ruling was confirmed on the director’s Facebook page on the same day. Despite an international outcry in reaction to Jafar Panahi’s lower court ruling, the Tehran Appeals Court upheld the sentence in its entirety. Panahi and his family have maintained silence about the ruling.
Also on 15 October, the Appeals Court announced its ruling regarding the six-year prison sentence of documentary filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof on charges of “acting against national security” and “propagating against the regime.” The Appeals Court reduced Rasoulof’s sentence to one year in prison. Rasoulof was also arrested on the night of 29 February 2011 at Jafar Panahi’s home.