Heavy Bails: Releasing Prisoners or Hostage Taking by the Judiciary?
(Analysis) – News of Abdollah Momeni’s release on the heavy bail of approximately $800,000 makes it appear that the Judiciary is setting ransoms and not bails. In fact most of the political prisoners released on bail over the past few months appear to be hostages of the judicial system due to the unreasonably high bail amounts they have had to post. Some of the bail amounts set are higher than the prisoner’s estimated earnings in 100 years. Presently hundreds of political, student, and civil society activists and journalists who have been released on heavy bails are either waiting for their sentences to be carried out or are facing new problems caused by their bail amount.
Abdollah Momeni $800,000 Temporarily released March 6, 2010
Mohammad Ali Abtahi $700,000 Released November 22, 2009
Ahmad Zeid Abadi $500,000 Remains in prison
Seyed Ahmad Ahmadian $500,000 Released December 25, 2009
Zia Nabavi $500,000 Remains in prison
Mohammad Ali Dadkhah $500,000 Released September 11, 2009
Maziar Bahari $300,000 Released October 17, 2009
Clotilde Rice $300,000 Released August 17, 2009
Mansoureh Shojaee $250,000 Released January 26, 2010
Mohammad Davari $200,000 Remains in prison-unable to post bail
Shiva Nazar Ahari $200,000 Released September 23, 2009,
re-arrested December 20, 2009, remains in prison
Hesam Salamat $200,000 Released August 19, 2009
3 years confirmed sentence
Mahsa Amrabadi $200,000 Released August 24, 2009
Mohammad Ghoochani $200,000 Released October 30, 2009
M. Reza Jalaeepour $200,000 Released September 14, 2009
Fazlollah Arab Sorkhi, a member of the Islamic Mujahedin Organization, received a bail order set of approximately $1 million. Behzad Nabavi, also a member of the Islamic Mujahedin Organization and former Deputy Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, was released on an $800,000 bail last November. Even student activist Peyman Aref faced a $100,000 bail. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran requests the Iranian Judiciary to end the trend of heavy and unreasonable bails, which is against Iranian law, and end the abuse and harassment of families of political prisoners.
Iranian Judiciary authorities, who under pressure from public opinion have no other choice but to release hundreds of individuals baselessly arrested after the elections, have either been issuing heavy sentences for political prisoners in trials which lack even the most basic elements of international standards for fair and objective courts, or they have been issuing disproportionately heavy bail amounts.
Many political prisoners whose bail has been set at amounts ten times larger than their financial capability, use help from their friends, family, and relatives to raise bail. But because bail amounts sometimes remain at the Judiciary for years without a final court ever convening, families face serious problems in this area.
Article 132 of Iranian Penal Code approved in 1999, stipulates that setting bail is a way of having access to the suspect and his timely attendance in courts when necessary and for preventing flight or hiding or mutiny, emphasizing that: “The judge is responsible for defining a security measure after the suspect has been informed of his charges.” Item 4 of this Article lists “receiving bail whether in cash or through bank guarantee notes or real or other property,” as a way for the courts to have access to the suspect after release and in a note explains: “Note: The judge is responsible for issuing an acceptance of custodianship or bail to the custodian or bail poster (if the bail poster is other than the suspect), explaining to him that should the suspect be subpoenaed and he fails to appear without acceptable excuse, or should the custodian or bail poster fail to introduce the suspect to the courts, the posted bail will be confiscated according to law.”
Therefore, the judges have been issuing multi-million Toman (hundreds of thousands of dollars) bails for intellectuals and political activists. while laws limit judge regarding bail amounts. In Article 134 of the said Code it is emphasized: “Posting bail must be proportionate to the importance of the crime, severity of the punishment, reasons and instruments of charges, and the probability of the suspect’s flight or disappearance of the crime evidence, suspect’s health conditions, age, and his reputation.”
The bail amount will remain in the Iranian Judiciary’s custody until, as Article 139 of the Code states: “when the suspect appears at set times or after them with the ability to prove his acceptable excuse, or when the case file ends, the bail will be refunded or the custodian will be relieved from his responsibility.”