“The Judge Took None of the Defense Seriously,” Says Sotoudeh’s Husband
Reza Khandan, human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh’s husband, spoke with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran about his wife’s second trial session held on Sunday, 28 November. “The situation in court didn’t feel terribly hopeful. Each side was just saying their own piece. The Judge and Prosecutor’s representative seemed to be in different world from Sotoudeh and her lawyers. They were talking, but there was no effort to comprehend the words. There was no air of understanding. For this and for all that has happened to Ms. Sotoudeh so far, I am not very hopeful about her acquittal. I only hope that she can receive bail orders to leave prison to revive before having to serve a sentence,” Khandan told the Campaign.
Sotoudeh’s second trial session was held at Branch 26 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Courts with Judge Pirabbasi presiding and four lawyers representing Sotoudeh. Khandan and representatives from nationwide Iranian Bar Associations also attended the five-hour session. The court’s verdict and decision about potential bail for Sotoudeh’s release will be known by next week.
Khandan said Sotoudeh’s physical and psychological conditions, as compared to the prior week when she had been on hunger strike, had improved. “Nasrin’s lawyers had tried to get bail orders for her, but this didn’t happen today. Likewise, her lawyers asked for an end to her solitary confinement, but the judge was not convinced with their reasoning and Nasrin was returned to solitary [confinement],” said Khandan.
“The charges were the same as before, except that from interrogations they also added ‘membership in the Center for Human Rights Defenders’. Her lawyers said today that not only is membership in the Center not a crime according to law, but Nasrin was never a member of the Center. Nasrin’s case file is very thick this time and it includes all her interviews and whatever she has said in the press in the area of women’s and children’s [rights],” said Khandan about Sotoudeh’s charges.
“They let me in with a 45 minute delay, so when I entered the courtroom, I only heard the end of Nasrin’s words. Nasrin was complaining about the way the prison guards treat her and counted her solitary confinement as the biggest pressure put on her during this time. She also followed up on her complaint about a prison officer who had insulted her a while ago. Nasrin filed a complaint at that time, but the paperwork for her grievance is no longer in any of her case files and we don’t know how to follow up on it,” Khandan added.
Reza Khandan said that Mohammad Ali Soltani, who has represented other lawyers, read Nasrin’s defense text. “It didn’t feel like an acquittal would be forthcoming. From all that has happened in the handling of Ms. Sotoudeh’s case, I don’t think she will be acquitted. I only hope that she would be released on bail so that until her [next] court date and returning to prison, she can revive herself both physically and psychologically a little,” he said.
A prominent lawyer and human rights activist, Nasrin Sotoudeh was arrested on 4 September. She has spent her entire detention in solitary confinement and most of it on hunger strike.