Iranian Judiciary Closes Acid Attack Cases With No Convictions But Promises Victims Compensation
Nearly four years after a series of acid attacks on women in the Iranian city of Isfahan, the judiciary has closed the cases without any convictions while pledging to compensate the victims.
“This was a public crime that does not go away with the passage of time and therefore it makes no sense to close the case,” Iranian Canadian attorney Hossein Raeesi told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on July 19.
“If the private plaintiffs have agreed to stop pursuing the case, that’s fine but if it means that the authorities are going to stop looking for the perpetrators, that would be unlawful and unreasonable,” said Raeesi.
“The court and the police should keep the case open and the judiciary and security agencies should seriously pursue it,” he added.
During the autumn of 2014, as many as 10 women were badly disfigured in Iran by men who threw acid at them. According to eyewitnesses, the victims were attacked for wearing what the men considered improper hijabs.
The attacks took place as Iran’s Parliament was debating the Plan to Promote Virtue and Prevent Vice, which became law in June 2015. It allows citizens to “verbally” confront people accused of committing vices.
Article 4 states, “Promoting virtue and preventing vice is carried out verbally, in writing or by heartfelt action. The verbal and written aspect is the responsibility of all people as well as the government, and the actionable aspect is the sole responsibility of the government and carried out within the parameters of the law.”
Article 6 states, “No person or group has the right to insult, strike, injure or kill in the name of promoting virtue and preventing vice. Violators will be punished according to the Islamic Penal Code.”
In October 2014, Isfahan’s Friday prayer leader Mohammad Taghi Rahbar stated that women with “bad hijab” should be confronted by more than just words. The words of Friday prayer leaders in Iran are often considered by the faithful as equal to or more important than the law.
A year after the attacks, the mother of one of the victims told CHRI that the authorities had not publicly released any information about the results of their investigations and warned families not to speak to foreign media.
“Whenever we try to follow up on our daughter’s case, they say they are working on it but so far they have not given any information. The first few weeks they were very active on the case, but now they have slowed down a lot. It seems like they have forgotten about it. We ran around a lot to this and that ministry to be compensated for our daughter’s medical expenses. Now our most important wish is that the perpetrators be punished for the acid attacks,” she said.
Although no one has been convicted for illegally attacking the women, a number of civil rights activists have been prosecuted for protesting against the attacks including human rights activist Ali Shariati, who served 16 months in prison before he was released in February 2018.
Civil rights activist Mahdieh Golru was also arrested in October 2014 a day after she attended a rally to protest acid attacks on women in Iran’s Isfahan Province.
She was held in solitary confinement in Evin Prison’s Ward 2-A, under the control of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), until her release in January 2015.