Iranian Judge Prosecutes Political Prisoner Without a Lawyer, Sentences Him to Five More Years
Political prisoner Mohammad Ali (Pirooz) Mansouri, eligible for conditional release after spending more than a decade in Iran’s Rajaee Shahr and Evin Prisons, has been slapped with additional time after being tried without a lawyer.
“They prosecuted him for going on a hunger strike, writing statements against capital punishment and even penning an open letter on the occasion of the new year and things of that sort, and although Mr. Mansouri repeatedly denied the charges, the judge gave him the maximum penalty, which is five years,” a source close to the Mansouri family told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on May 15, 2018.
Judge Mohammad Moghiseh of Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court prosecuted Mansouri, 50, on May 14 without access to a lawyer, according to the source who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals for speaking to a foreign media outlet.
“He did not have a lawyer and was not even told that he was being taken to court,” the source said. “The night before the trial, they told him that he’s going on trial in the morning. Judge Moghiseh deliberately prevented him from getting a lawyer by refusing his request for an extension [to have time to prepare a defense].”
Arrested in 2007 for allegedly collaborating with the outlawed Mojahedin-e Khalgh (MEK), Mansouri was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the charge of “moharebeh,” or waging war against the state.
But according to Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, amended in 2013, his unarmed association with the MEK is not considered an act of war.
Article 287 states, “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.”
According to Article 288 of the code, “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 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.”
Since Mansouri was not in possession of a weapon at the time of his arrest, his 15-year sentence was eligible for review and a reduction but the judicial authorities have refused to grant him the review.
In August 2017, Mansouri took part in a mass hunger strike with other political prisoners in Rajaee Shahr Prison to protest against their sudden transfer to a security-enhanced ward without their personal belongings including medicine.
The Judiciary refused to listen to the protesters’ demands and the prison authorities came down hard on the inmates for launching the strike by refusing to grant them medical attention and denying them heat in the cold winter months among other punishments.