Novelist Sentenced to One Year Imprisonment for His Fictional Writings
(24 February 2008) In an unprecedented ruling, an Iranian appeals court revised a suspended sentence against Yaghoob Yadali, a novelist, to actual imprisonment. His lawyer said the court is not legally empowered to issue such a ruling.
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran called on the Iranian Judiciary to immediately reverse its ruling and to drop all charges against Yadali.
“Yadali’s prosecution is a blatant violation of his freedom of expression. He shouldn’t have been put on trial in the first place,” the group said.In response to the appeals court’s decision, Yadali told Tehran’s Kargozaran newspaper: “I am dismayed and surprised at the court’s ruling. Dismayed because this entire saga from its inception resembles a horrifying game and surprised because the appeals court increased the lower court’s sentencing.”
On 23 February 2008, the Iranian Students News Agency reported that an appeals court in the western province of Kohkilooyeh- Boyerahmad increased a lower court’s sentence to one year imprisonment. According to Article 258 of the Procedures of Penal Courts, an appeals court is legally not empowered to increase a lower court’s sentencing, but only to either confirm or reduce it.
The public prosecutor in the city of Yassoj detained Yadali on March 15, 2007. He was charged with insulting ethnic minorities for dialogues he used in two of his novels published years ago. The charges related to stories told in his novels, “Halatha dar Hayat,” published in 1998, and “Adaab-e Bigharari,” published in 2003.
Yadali was released after 40 days in detention on April 24, 2007 upon posting bail. The public court in Yasooj held a trail in September 2007. Charged with “publication of falsehoods,” the judge issued Yadali a sentence of three months imprisonment and nine months suspended sentence. In addition, the judge required him to write four articles on “cultural and artistic personalities, each at a minimum length of one page on size A4 paper, to be published every six months” printed in a local publication at his own expense. The court’s decision was described as “truly bizarre” by Iranian commentators. Yadali appealed the court’s ruling.
Yadali is an accomplished novelist and has received critical praise from Iranian literary circles. He has been awarded several literary prizes, including the prestigious Golshiri Foundation award for best novel in 2005.