Kurdish Prisoner Sentenced for Murder Without Evidence
An Orumiyeh Penal Court found a Kurdish political prisoner guilty last week of murdering two Revolutionary Guards members, though no evidence, witnesses, nor confessions were presented in the case, a local activist told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. The prisoner, Ali Ahmad Soleiman, had previously completed a six-year prison term on political charges but had not been released.
Branch 12 of Orumiyeh Penal Court sentenced Soleiman to qisas (proportional retribution, to be requested by the victim’s next-of-kin, for a crime) for one of the deaths, and diyeh (“blood money” paid to the victim’s next-of-kin) for the other. The two guards were killed during local entanglements with the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK).
According to the local human rights activist, who has been following Soleiman’s case for many years, the murder charges against him were created by the Western Azerbaijan Province Intelligence Ministry and the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC)’s Intelligence Unit. Ali Ahmad Soleiman is a Kurdish citizen of Iraqi Kurdistan. Security forces arrested him on November 17, 2005, in the Targavar border region near Orumiyeh and transferred him to the Orumiyeh Intelligence Office’s Detention Center, where he was interrogated on charges of membership in PJAK. Soleiman was severely beaten during these interrogations, the activist said.
When he was transferred to Orumiyeh Central Prison his charges remained “membership in PJAK,” but after several months of detention, the IRGC Intelligence Unit contacted the families of two local IRGC members who had been killed in a confrontation with PJAK forces, and asked them to press charges against this political prisoner in the cases of their loved ones. After the families filed suit against Ali Ahmad Soleiman, he was transferred to the Orumiyeh Police Investigation Unit Detention Center, where he was severely tortured during interrogations, but he did not confess to the murders.
“The political prisoner was summoned repeatedly over the years and interrogated about the murders, but in the absence of witnesses and the suspect’s confessions, the case remained in a limbo. It had neither a ruling, nor was it closed,” said the source.
Ali Ahmad Soleiman had been sentenced in 2006 to five years in prison on charges of “membership in PJAK,” and to six months in prison for “illegal entry into the country.”
“Though Ali Ahmad Soleiman completed his prison term in November 2011, the Intelligence Ministry has not allowed his release. He was summoned to court three times in February. The Orumiyeh Prosecutor’s Office told Soleiman that they did not think his five-year prison sentence was sufficient for him and that they have requested another trial for him. He was again summoned to the Orumiyeh Revolutionary Court and was sentenced to one year in prison on charges of ‘contacting Kurdish media abroad and human rights organizations, specifically the office of the Special Rapporteur, from inside the prison.’ He was summoned a third time to the Penal Court and was put on trial for the murders of the two IRGC members,” the source told the Campaign.
“After Hossein Khezri, a cellmate of Soleiman’s, was executed in Orumiyeh Prison in 2011, [Soleiman] and several other political prisoners were transferred to the Intelligence Office Detention Center on charges of ‘participating in the prison strike’ and ‘contact with foreign media,’ in June 2011, he was sentenced to six months in prison on charges of ‘contact with foreign media,’ and ‘propaganda against the regime.’ This prisoner [Soleiman] was once again transferred to Orumiyeh Intelligence Office Detention Center on October 11, 2012, along with four Kurdish political prisoners by the names of Ahmad Tamouee, Yousef Kakeh Meimi, Jahangir Badouzadeh, and Mostafa Ali Ahmad. The group was interrogated for two months on charges of ‘contact with human rights organizations and specifically the office of the UN Special Rapporteur,’ and ‘contact with Kurdish-language media abroad’ from inside the prison, and were subjected to psychological and/or physical torture inside solitary cells before they were all transferred to Orumiyeh Central Prison,” said the source.
According to the source, the reason the families of the two IRGC provided to the court for Soleiman’s involvement in the case was that Soleiman was present in the region in 2005, and so is aware of the identities of the murderers; therefore he must introduce the culprits or pay diyeh (blood money) to the families. Soleiman was informed last month that the court sentenced him to payment of diyeh to the family of one of the IRGC members, and qisas (retribution to requested by the victim’s family) for the other one.
The source told the Campaign that Ali Ahmad Soleiman objected to the sentence, but the Intelligence Ministry threatened his lawyer, and the lawyer refused to write his appeal request. Soleiman then wrote his own appeal request from prison. The court issued its ruling based solely on a report provided by the Intelligence Ministry and the IRGC’s Intelligence Unit, in the absence of any evidence, confessions, or witnesses.