Following a court trial on 8 January, an Iranian court has issued a ruling in the case of prominent Iranian human rights lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani, but the ruling document still has not been served because the court typist responsible for typing the ruling has gone on pilgrimage to Mecca. Soltani remains in the Intelligence Ministry’s Ward 209, and the judge has not issued bail orders.
“Thirty-eight days have passed since Mr. Soltani’s court date, but the court’s verdict has not yet been served. His lawyers believe this to be illegal and that the ruling should have been served within three to four days after the court session,” Soltani’s wife Massoumeh Dehghan told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran on Wednesday, 15 February.
“Keeping him in prison is illegal. He should have been released on bail until his definitive ruling was issued. I believe a will beyond the law has kept him in prison, so that he cannot conduct his life and his work, and his life is disrupted. His lawyers took steps to receive bail orders or to transfer him from [the Intelligence Ministry’s] Ward 209 to the General Ward, as this is a clear violation of the laws of the Islamic Republic. When investigations on a prisoner’s case are completed, his trial has also ended and he must be transferred to the General Ward, but I don’t know why this isn’t happening. The judge himself said, ‘I don’t want to issue bail orders; I don’t want to transfer him to the General Ward.’ I don’t know what the reason for this is, but as they refuse to transfer him to the General Ward, we have asked that they at least look into his health conditions, or to make books, pen, and paper available to him. But there is no word on any of these requests, either,” Dehghan told the Campaign.
Abdolfattah Soltani is a lawyer and co-founder of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, one of Iran’s leading human rights organizations created by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi. He was arrested on 10 September 2011.
Soltani is charged with “propagating against the regime.” The reasons for this charge as stated in his indictment during his 8 January trial were: “being awarded the  Nuremberg International Human Rights Award,” “interviewing with media about his clients’ cases,” and “co-founding the Center for Human Rights Defenders.” He did not attend his trial session, calling the court unqualified to review his case.
“Mr. Soltani did not attend his trial, because he believed that a closed session trial and lack of a jury had rendered the court disqualified. The judge said, ‘I will reflect all this and issue my ruling; you can defend yourself at the Appeals Court.’ But 38 days have gone by since then and the ruling has not yet been served. When Mr. Soltani’s lawyers pursued the matter a while back, the judge told them, ‘I issued the verdict, but it has not yet been typed and is currently inside the typist’s office.’ It was interesting when yesterday the lawyers again went to follow up, and they were told that the typist has gone to Mecca,” she told the Campaign.
Dehghan related her husband’s medical state and emphasized that her husband is being deprived of even basic prisoner rights.
“His psychological state is good, but he has lost weight and suffers from digestive track and intestinal illness. Stress is very harmful to him and his state of limbo with respect to his case compounds his stress,” Soltani’s wife said.
“I don’t know what medicine he is taking there now, but every time I took medicine for him, prison guards did not accept it and told me to write down the name of the medicines, so that they would provide him with those drugs. But Mr. Soltani said that they never gave him the drug names and the infirmary never gave him the medicine. I am concerned for his health. The Intelligence Ministry forces who arrested my husband are responsible for his life,” she added.
“I have written five letters to the [Tehran] prosecutor so far, asking him to observe Mr. Soltani’s rights. Since his arrest till now, we have not had any in-person visits with him. We visit with him through a booth once every two weeks; but [according to the law] the visitation should be once a week. Even his lawyers have never had in-person visits with him. The only thing he is allowed is to call home twice a week, and to talk for five to six minutes each time. I am only allowed to ask about his health,” said Dehghan.
In 2003, Abdolfattah Soltani co-founded the Center for Human Rights Defenders along with Shirin Ebadi, Mohammad Seifzadeh, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, and Mohammad Sharif. He was the defense lawyer of many Iranian political and civil activists, including Akbar Ganji, Haleh Esfandiari, Zahra Kazemi’s family, Zahra Baniyaghoub’s family, several Nationalist-Religious activists, and members of the Tehran Bus Company Workers’ Union. He was arrested once before in 2009, and was released after more than two months in prison.