Keeping Activist Bahareh Hedayat in Prison is Against the Law Says Legal Expert
Political motivations are taking precedence over the law when it comes to activists such as Bahareh Hedayat, who is being kept in prison despite the completion of her sentence, legal expert Mohammad Oliaei-Fard told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
“The fact is that the security apparatus is determined to use every means to punish political prisoners,” Oliaei-Fard said, and added that the Judiciary prevents political prisoners from using Article 134 of Iran’s New Islamic Penal Code, in order to keep them behind bars. According to this Article, if a person has been given multiple sentences, he or she should only serve the sentence with the highest punishment.
Accordingly, Bahareh Hedayat, a 34-year-old women’s and students’ rights activist, should have been released by the end of June 2015, and she was in fact served release orders by Branch 54 of the Appeals Court on August 12, 2015, because she had served her highest sentence, which was for five years in prison for “acting against national security and publishing falsehoods.”
Yet Hedayat remains incarcerated because the authorities are now enforcing a previously suspended sentence for an additional two years in prison—a sentence whose statute of limitations expired in 2012.
“Keeping Bahareh Hedayat in Evin Prison…is illegal and the authority holding her can face imprisonment for up to three years in addition to being banned from government positions for three to five years,” based on Article 570 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, said attorney Oliaei-Fard.
Oliaei-Fard, who was himself a political prisoner for a year in 2010-2011, urged imprisoned activists to contact the appropriate judge and invoke Article 134 of the Penal Code to reduce their time in prison. “If the judge does not comply, he can be sued,” the lawyer told the Campaign.
“Political activists who have a long record are treated differently in the judicial system. There may be a warrant out for their arrest, or they may have even been sentenced in absentia and never informed of it until the judicial authorities feel it’s time to use it against them when they are in prison,” Oliaei-Fard said.