January 9, 2011
Committee of Human Rights Reporters (CHRR) – The case of Jafar Kazemi, a prisoner on death row, has been sent to the branch in the Revolutionary Court responsible for the execution of sentences. The upholding and confirmation of the sentence by the Supreme Court has raised concerns about the sudden [planned] execution of this prisoner of conscience. Jafar Kazemi was sentenced to death on the charges of “Moharebeh [Enmity with God] through collaboration and ties with the People’s Mujahedin of Iran Organization [PMOI]” and “propaganda against the regime”.
In an interview with CHRR, Roudabeh Akbari, Mr. Kazemi’s wife talked about how the efforts of her and the lawyer have not born results. “Throughout this time, on numerous occassions, I visited different judicial bodies including the Revolutionary Court, the Tehran Prosecutor’s General office, The Supreme Court, the branch responsible for the execution of sentences, and the court located in Evin prison. Last Monday, I went to the Attorney General’s office, but my request to meet the Prosecutor General was rejected once again. I was informed that the Prosecutor has not been accepting any visitors since a while ago. Finally, I went to the security court located in Evin prison but I was not allowed to meet with any officials; however, I was informed by a soldier that the case of my husband is in the Execution of Sentences branch, but they have not made a final decision [on the time and date of the execution].
Roudabeh Akbari had written and sent a letter to the UN Secretary General [Ban Ki-moon]requesting from him to help save her husband’s life. In the letter, she described the physical torture her husband endured, “The interrogator told my husband that ‘we need a few sacrificial lambs to save the regime, and your name was drawn [as one of the people to be sacrificed].’ They demanded from my husband, again, to give an interview on the Ashura clashes [that occurred on December 27, 2009 in Iran], but he resisted, because my husband was arrested three months before the day in question. The interrogators threatened my husband that his wife and son would be tortured before his eyes if he resisted an interview. Despite threats to dismember his wife before his eyes, my husband refused to give any interviews. Faced with his resistance, they told him that his death sentence would certainly be carried out.” “15 months of continuous worries, I continue to try to save my husband’s life”
Roudabeh Akbari said, “I have not lost hope. I will go to the Prosecutor’s office again tomorrow. Maybe they will allow me to visit him in person. I have gone to his [Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi] office six times already, and each time I was told in a repulsive way that the Prosecutor will not meet me.”
Roudabeh Akbari said that her husband is in high spirits. “Our weekly visits take place on Mondays through a glass window. My husband told me that nothing special happens in the prison. When they took Ali Akbar Siyadat for execution [on December 28th], they did not inform [anyone] where they were taking him. They do not inform prisoners [of the date of execution]. On the eve of execution, they quietly transfer prisoners to solitary confinement and then carry out the sentence the next day.”
Jafar Kazemi’s wife described the arrest of her husband: “On September 18,2009, [Jafar Kazemi] was arrested in Haft Hoz Square. After being arrested, the agents took him to his mother’s home and searched the entire place. Even though his mother told [the regime agents] that ‘my son does not live here and has his own home and life and only comes here when his wife is away,’ they did not believe her and proceeded to search the entire house. They did not, however, find any evidence [against Jafar Kazemi]. Afterward, they came to our home and searched the entire place. They took away the children’s CDs and our family videos. They found no evidence because neither he nor I had any [political] activities. After [Jafar Kazemi was detained], we had no news of him for three weeks until he called us and informed us that he was in ward 209 of Evin prison. We did not have the right to visit him for two months, and during the first visit, I found out that he had been under duress and torture.”
Show Trial: The Death Sentence Had Been Already Determined
Jafar Kazemi was one of the defendants forced to participate in the show trials held for 2009 post-election detainees. Even though he was arrested months before the Ashura day clashes, he was tried on the charge of participating in the unrests on December 27, 2009. He was subjected to pressures to give [false] televised confessions, but he refused. Consequently, he was sentenced to death along with six other defendants.
Roudabeh Akbari said, “Throughout this time, he was in solitary confinement and subjected to interrogations, and he did not even have the right to meet his lawyer until the day of the trial. I had hired a lawyer for him, and it wasn’t until the day of the trial that he was finally able to sign the letter that allows the lawyer to officially represent him. Even in the court, when the lawyer atempted to talk to him briefly, Judge Moghiseh interrupted them in a rude and rough manner. On the same day, my husband was arrested and four other individuals were also detained so during the trial it could seem like these people were colluding together. The individuals were tried in the same case. However, Jafar Kazemi did not know any of his [so-called] co-defendants, and yet, Judge Moghiseh tried him as the principal defendant in the case. In any case, this was a complete show trial, and the trial for all four cases was concluded within half an hour. The families were not allowed in the courtroom, and I was sitting in the outside hallway. Finally, after much insistence, I was able to see Jafar Kazemi for three minutes in the presence of agents. It was clear that he had endured harsh conditions. However, he said that he had done nothing and that he trusts in God. Jafar Kazemi and Mohammad Ali Haj Aghaie were together. That same day, as a result of the judge’s conduct, the lawyer considered [the death sentence] as a possible outcome of the trial. The judge did not allow my husband to talk at all and told him, ‘We should have executed you back in 1980’s [when Jafar Kazemi served nine years in prison between 1981 and 1990]; it was a mistake and I will not let you slip through my hands this time.’ The preliminary court was held in February 2010, and the death sentence was handed down a week later on February 7, 2010.”
The Death Sentence Was Upheld in the Appeals Court Without Looking at the Argument of Defense
In mid-May 2010, branch 36 of the Tehran Provincial Appeals Court upheld Jafar Kazemi’s death sentence. Roudabeh Akbari calls the legal proceedings of the Appeals Court despairing. “Ms. Ghanavi [Jafar Kazemi’s lawyer] submitted several pages of defense to branch 36 of the Appeals Court presided by Judge Zargar. Although he had several days to look into the defense argument, the judge had not studied a single page of it, and on the day of the trial, he simply wrote a phrase that the lower court ruling has been upheld in the Appeals Court. I went to the court several times, but the court’s secretary treated me in a very repulsive way. However, I am just the wife of a prisoner of conscience, and I have no political activities whatsoever. They told me I am a “Monafegh” [hypocrite] (a derogatory term used to describe PMOI members), and kicked me out of the court while screaming at me. I was not allowed to meet Mr. Zargar.”
The Supreme Court Rejected the Request for Retrial and Recourse
In the last phase of the legal proceedings, the Supreme Court upheld the rulings by the lower court and the Appeals Court, and sent the case of Jafar Kazemi to the Execution of Sentences Circuit Court. Roudabeh Akbari has expressed concerns that the death sentence of her husband can be carried out at any moment. “When the case was sent to branch 31 of the Supreme Court, I was very hopeful that the ruling [of the lower court] would be overturned. In order to proceed with this step, the rulings of Judge Moghiseh and Judge Zargar were required. Nasim Ghanavi tried very hard and was very hopeful because she was able to obtain a copy of the ruling after much struggle, and the Supreme Court received the documents. That is why she was hopeful that the Supreme Court , citing the contents of the case which lacked any evidence, would overturn the death sentence. However, on July 28, 2010, the request for retrial and recourse was rejected and the death sentence was upheld.”
**47 year old Jafar Kazemi has two children. He was arrested on September 18, 2009 after participating in a protest [prior to the December 27, 2009 Ashura protests). He was held in solitary confinement in ward 209 of Evin prison for 74 days. He was subjected to harsh and severe interrogations. He was then transferred to ward 350 of Evin prison. Mr. Kazemi spent the years 1981 to 1990 in jail after which, according to his wife and his lawyer, he had no political activities related to his former charges. Jafar Kazemi’s lawyer stated that her client was forced to make self-incriminating confessions during his interrogations, due to severe pressure and duress; however, there is no evidence in his case that supports or proves the Moharebeh charge [Enmity with God].