Nasrin Sotoudeh’s Lawyers Sue Judge Moghiseh For Unlawful Sentencing
Judge Moghiseh Notorious in Iran for Issuing Politically Motivated Sentences
Payam Derafshan and Mohammad Moghimi, the lawyers representing detained human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, have sued Judge Mohammad Moghiseh, the head of Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran, accusing him of unlawful sentencing and displaying a lack of impartiality in their client’s case.
Derafshan published details about the lawsuit on Instagram on September 29, 2018.
His post states that in 2015, Judge Moghiseh sentenced Sotoudeh to five years in prison for “espionage” even though she was on trial for “propaganda against the state,” which carries a maximum one-year prison sentence. Even if she had committed espionage, the maximum penalty for that charge is three years in prison, noted the lawyers.
The suit argues that the judge’s verdict was a violation of sentencing guidelines stipulated in articles 282, 335 and 341 of the Criminal Procedures Regulations.
“The indictment asked the court to investigate a number of charges based on the submitted evidence, but instead the judge issued a verdict on a different charge without providing evidence,” the suit states.
Sotoudeh’s lawyers also accused Judge Moghiseh of lacking impartiality, as evidenced in his unsubstantiated claims about their client, such as when he accused her of defending the terrorist organization Al Qaeda without providing evidence.
Sotoudeh was also sentenced for peacefully advocating against the death penalty in Iran, which is applied in Iran in cases severely lacking in international norms of due process.
“If it’s a crime to struggle for the gradual prohibition of capital punishment, then all those individuals who made an effort to eliminate the death penalty from many parts of the anti-drug law, as well as the judiciary chief who ordered an end to the executions, should be prosecuted and punished,” the attorneys added.
After years of the UN and human rights activists inside the country heavily criticizing Iran’s high execution rate, the Parliament amended a law in 2017 that enabled more than 5,000 death row prisoners to seek case reviews that could result in sentence reductions.
Decades of Punishing Peaceful Activists With Harsh Sentences
Known as a judge that bends to the wishes of state officials and security agencies in cases involving political charges, Moghiseh is also responsible for sentencing numerous peaceful activists, dissidents and minorities to long prison terms under trumped-up national security charges.
According to testimonies cited by the Justice for Iran website, which has conducted extensive research on the execution of thousands of political prisoners without due process in Iran in the 1980s, Moghiseh also played a significant role in the torture and persecution of political prisoners in Gohardasht, Evin, and Ghezelhesar prisons during that time.
Sotoudeh has been detained since June 13, 2018, when security agents transported her from her home to Evin Prison in Tehran. Once inside the prison, Sotoudeh learned she would be serving a five-year prison sentence issued to her in absentia by Judge Moghiseh in 2015.
She is one of Iran’s most prominent human rights defenders and beginning in 2010 served three years in Iran’s Evin Prison for peacefully practicing her profession.
In September 2018, she was awarded the prestigious Ludovic Trarieux Human Rights Prize because of her commitment to human rights and to the independence of the legal profession. Sotoudeh was also awarded the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 2012.
In July 2018, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) sent a letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei calling for Sotoudeh’s immediate release.
“The IBAHRI calls on Your Excellency to ensure the immediate release of Ms. Sotoudeh, and to ensure that she is afforded the full protection of her due process rights in compliance with domestic and international standards,” said the July 10 letter addressing Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that was published on July 17.
“The IBAHRI further urges Your Excellency to take all possible measures to ensure that lawyers are allowed to carry out their legitimate professional activities without fear of intimidation, harassment or interference, in accordance with international human rights standards,” added the letter signed by the IBAHRI Co-Chairs Ambassador (ret.) Hans Corell United Nations Legal Counsel and Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, and the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, a former Australian High Court Justice.