Iranian Supreme Court Upholds “Unjust” Death Sentence Against Kurdish Activist
The Supreme Court of Iran failed to fully consider the defense’ arguments before it upheld the death sentence against Iranian Kurdish political rights activist Ramin Hossein Panahi, his lawyer Hossein Ahmadiniaz told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
“The preliminary court determined that he was a combatant and issued a death sentence even though it was proven in court that he was not armed and did not open fire on anyone and now the sentence has been quickly confirmed on appeal without paying attention to the defense arguments,” Ahmadiniaz told CHRI.
“As Mr. Hossein Panahi’s lawyer, I believe this sentence is unjust and I will file a motion for a judicial review,” he said.
Ahmadiniaz added that he was informed of the sentence when he went to the courthouse on April 11, 2018. Branch 29 of the Supreme Court confirmed the execution ruling issued in January 2018 by Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj, the capital of Iran’s Kurdistan Province.
Panahi, 24, was arrested on June 24, 2017, in Sanandaj after being wounded in an ambush by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) against members of the outlawed Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan, an armed separatist organization. Three Komala activists—Sabah Hossein Panahi, Hamed Seif Panahi, and Behzad Nouri—were killed in the attack.
Panahi was the only one to survive the attack and has consistently stated that he was not armed and did not fire a weapon at anyone. He has nevertheless been convicted of the charge.
Based on Article 287 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, “Any group that wages armed rebellion against the state of the Islamic Republic of Iran, shall be regarded as moharebs, and if they use [their] weapon, its members shall be sentenced to the death penalty.”
Moharebeh is defined as “drawing a weapon on the life, property or chastity of people or to cause terror as it creates the atmosphere of insecurity.”
Article 288 also states, “When members of the rebel group are arrested before any conflict occurs or a weapon is used, if the organization or core of that group exists, they shall be sentenced to a ta’zir [punishment of] imprisonment of the third degree, and if the organization or core of that group ceases to exist, they shall be sentenced to a ta’zir imprisonment of the fifth degree.”
Ramin’s Hossein Panahi’s brother, Afshin, was arrested at his family’s home in late June 2017 and sentenced to eight years in prison for the charge of “propaganda against the state” and “collaboration with a Kurdish opposition group.” The Appeals Court upheld the sentence in March 2018.
“The IRGC had carried out a surprise attack and opened fire without warning. Since then, nearly every member of the family—brothers, sisters, brother-in-laws—have been detained, interrogated or threatened,” their brother Amjad Hossein Panahi told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on March 27, 2018.
“My brother Ramin has been sentenced to death, Afshin sentenced to eight and a half years in prison, my cousin Zubair Hossein Panahi sentenced to six years in prison and our brother-in-law Ahmad Aminpanah sentenced to five years in prison, all because one person was a member of a political party,” he added.