Latifi’s Execution Postponed To Review Family’s Appeal For Clemency
Death Sentence Issued Based Upon Other Suspects’ Testimony
In an interview with the Islamic Republic of Iran’s News Agency, IRNA, Saleh Nikbakht, lawyer of death row prisoner of conscience Habibollah Latifi, whose execution was postponed at the last moment, said that the execution orders were stopped to review the family’s appeal for clemency, as well as the lawyers’ request for a postponement. The lawyer did not comment on the arrests of Mr. Latifi’s family members.
Nikbakht said that he was informed last Thursday afternoon about the scheduled execution for Sunday at 6:30 a.m. He had traveled to Sanandaj and met with the Prosecutor, presenting him with Latifi’s Parents’ appeal for clemency, requesting a halt to the execution during review of this request.
“Kurdistan Province civil organizations had a meeting with the Governor, and during their talks they reiterated the request for a temporary halt of the execution. Therefore, during the last hours of Saturday, with the cooperation of the Province’s judicial authorities and the Kurdistan Governor, the execution was halted,” said Saleh about efforts to halt the execution. Earlier, Nemat Ahmadi, another lawyer for the case told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that last Thursday he had submitted a clemency request to the offices of Sadegh Larijani, Head of the Iranian Judiciary.
Saleh Nikbakht also told the news agency that all through the judicial review of his client’s case, he had access to the case and had been able to defend his client. “Latifi’s trial session in the Spring of 2008 lasted about 3.5 hours and Nemat Ahmadi, the other lawyer, and I spent 2.5 hours on our defense of the client. The client himself admitted to all the charges made against him in the “investigations minutes,” except for two charges of participating in the bomb explosion in the Sanandaj Prosecutor’s car, and the attack on the Farjeh Police Station in Sanandaj. Considering that aside from his own admissions, several other arrested individuals had provided written testimony against Latifi, his lower court ruled for the death sentence after comprehensive review and sending out requests for information. At the time, according to a Supreme Court ‘uniform ruling mandate,’ all death sentences issued by former General Courts and Revolutionary Courts were reviewed in provincial appeals courts, and the appeal request was reviewed in the [Kurdistan] Province Appeals Court,” said Saleh Nikbakht.
“Branch 4 of Kurdistan Province Appeals Courts reviewed this case very carefully and we almost have no objections to the case in this area. In the end, considering that the two charges of participating in the Prosecutor’s car explosion and the attack on the Farjeh Police Station had not been accepted by the suspect, the court deemed his other charges such as the acoustic bomb explosion at Ghafour Crossroads, and the one in Sananadaj’s Azadi Square, as well as acquisition of explosives, and preparation and distribution of flyers and CD’s of PJAK Group as sufficient, and upheld the execution sentence,” he added.
“Even so, we, the defense lawyers…twice requested a retrial. The request was denied once and the other time it was accepted as an appeals request, the outcome of which is not clear at this time. For this reason, as well as the change in procedures which sanctions the Supreme Court as the judicial authority that will review all execution sentences, I have requested a halt of execution from the Sanandaj Prosecutor, and he has agreed to it,” said Latifi’s defense lawyer.