Young Iranian Death Row Inmate May Soon Receive Sentence Review
The request for a judicial review of the death sentence against 21-year-old Sina Dehghan for “insulting the prophet” of Islam is being processed, his lawyer told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
Mehdi Shakiba added that he was hopeful about the outcome, but declined to comment further in the interview on March 28, 2017.
“According to Sina’s lawyer, steps have been taken for a judicial review, and with the good news we’re hearing from him, God willing this case will come to end positively as soon as possible,” Deghan’s mother said in a video obtained by CHRI.
In late January of this year, Iran’s Supreme Court upheld the death sentence issued against Deghan by Branch 1 of the Criminal Court in Arak in 2015 for “insulting the prophet.” He was also issued a 16-month prison sentence for “insulting the supreme leader.”
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) arrested Dehghan on October 21, 2015 at a military barracks in Tehran after he made comments against Islam and the Quran on the LINE instant messaging application. He has been imprisoned in Arak Prison ever since.
“Security and judicial authorities promised Sina’s family that if they didn’t make any noise about his case, he would have a better chance of being freed, and that talking about it to the media would work against him,” an informed source told CHRI on March 21, 2017. “Unfortunately, the family believed those words and stopped sharing information about his case and discouraged others from sharing it as well.”
According to article 262 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, insulting the prophet is punishable by death. However, Article 263 states that if the accused tells the court that his insults were the result of anger or a mistake, the sentence could be reduced to 74 lashings.
“Sina was a conscript who was posted as a guard in the barracks. He had four days left of his military service when the security forces arrested him,” added the source, who asked for anonymity for security reasons. “They took him to his home and searched it while he repeatedly expressed regret and repentance.”
“During his interrogation, Sina was told that if he signed a confession and repented, he would be pardoned and let go,” continued the source.
“Unfortunately, he made a childish decision and accepted the charges. Then they sentenced him to death.”
“Later he admitted that he signed the confession hoping to get freed,” added the source. “Apparently the authorities also got him to confess in front of a camera as well.”