In interviews with Rooz, civil society activists and people familiar with the plight of political prisoners, stated that the execution of Kurdish political prisoner Habibollah Latifi has been upheld by the country’s highest judicial body and is awaiting implementation.
Habibollah Latifi’s family members, who were arrested as a precautionary measure as his execution became more imminent, have been released but barred from speaking to the media about their son’s condition. But, speaking to Rooz, Elaheh Latifi confirmed that her brother’s execution had been upheld by the supreme court.
Habibollah Latifi is a Kurdish student who has been behind bars in Sanandaj since 2007. He was sentenced to death for his alleged involvement in several bombings in Kurdistan. He was scheduled for execution last winter, but according to his lawyers, the execution was stayed after the court’s verdict was appealed.
Speaking to Rooz, civil society activist and law student Mokhtar Zarei, who has been closely following Habibollah Latifi’s case, describes the current status of this Kurdish political prisoner.
Rooz: Is this death verdict final? Is any other judicial recourse available?
Mokhtar Zarei (MZ): Currently, the case has finished its march through the judicial process, and the verdict is awaiting implementation. But because the Islamic republic supreme leader has extrajudicial pardoning powers, and he has delegated that power to the highest judicial authority, currently the only solution is to obtain the supreme leader’s pardon. That’s why several of us civil society activists, working closely with many residents in Sanandaj and Habibollah’s attorneys, have submitted a pardon request to the supreme leader’s office after gathering one thousand signatures.
Rooz: How effective is such a request? What is the legal basis for it?
MZ: If we want to talk about the law, the law states that a jury must be present in any case involving political charges, and the verdict must be issued by the jury. Unfortunately, despite the clear legal mandate, the Iranian judicial system has effectively eliminated the jury requirement. As a student of the law, I believe that gathering signatures from the citizenry¾from clerics, students, merchants, teachers, laborers, and civil society activists¾is a new and novel mechanism that can perhaps fill the jury void. We hope that the supreme leader grants the pardon.
Rooz: As a civil-legal activist, do you think the request will be granted?
MZ: Throughout this case, and over time, we realized that the judicial officials in Kurdistan are not keen on implementing execution verdicts. The regime itself often attempts to find a way to reverse execution and ghesas [retribution] verdicts. That’s why we hope that the supreme leader grants our request. In the end, I want to thank Kurdistan’s judicial officials and the province’s governor for their goodwill. They have refused to implement the verdict despite the fact that it was finalized a long time ago. Here, on the behalf of civil society activists in Sanandaj, I want to thank the officials in Kurdistan for their efforts in delaying Habibollah Latifi’s execution.