Human Rights Lawyer Seifzadeh Refused to Participate in Own Trial Due To Revolutionary Court’s Incompetence
Mohammad Seifzadeh, prominent lawyer and one of the founding members of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, did not participate in his court trial on 11 January 2012, his wife and lawyer Fatemeh Golzar told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
“Today (11 January), Mr. Seifzadeh’s trial was held in Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court for the third case raised against him, related to statements and letters that he signed in prison. He did not want to participate in the trial, and he asked me as his lawyer to take only his defense bill to the court,” Golzar told the Campaign.
“Mr. Seifzadeh believes the Revolutionary Court is unqualified to handle his case. He forwent participation in the trial because of the court’s lack of competence and lack of a jury at his trial—which is one of the deficiencies that make this not a fair trial—and for other, similar reasons,” Golzar, who is currently the only lawyer representing Seifzadeh, told the Campaign about her client’s reason for not participating in the trial.
In November 2010, Mohammad Seifzadeh was sentenced to nine years in prison and a 10-year ban on practicing law on charges of acting against national security by participating in the establishment of the Defenders of Human Rights Center. In the latter part of April 2011, security officials of Orumiyeh detained him and charged him with “illegal exit” out of the country. After two months of interrogations, they transferred him to Evin Prison. In July 2011 an appeals court reduced his original sentence to two years’ imprisonment.
Seifzadeh has been held in Evin Prison since May 2011 and charged with “collusion and acting against national security” for his writings. These include a letter to Seyyed Mohammad Khatami, former President of Iran; two articles critical of the way amnesty is applied in the law and of the definition of political crimes; and signing onto collective statements in prison. He was summoned to Evin Prison Court a few days after his first letter to Khatami was published in news websites.
“If we had had a good Judiciary in the old [Shah’s] regime, the revolution would not have happened, as revolutions happen when the disenfranchised people cannot find an organization that would redeem their rights. But, as a judge and attorney with long experience, I have to be fair and say that the Judiciary [under the Shah] was not so bad.” Seifzadeh said in a part of his letter to Khatami.
“Mr. Seifzadeh only wished that I take his defense bill to court, but not participate in the court session. He only wanted his defense bill to be registered. I did just that because I could not do anything other than what my client wanted,” Golzar said.
“In that defense bill, he wrote about the instances of court’s lack of competence, and that fact that from the beginning of his detention his rights as a prisoner were lacking. So far he has been prohibited from having in-person visits with his family, phone calls, correspondence, and furlough, which is an inalienable right for any prisoner,” she continued.
Seifzadeh is currently awaiting sentencing for his new charge of illegally exiting the country.
Golzar expressed her hope that her husband and the rest of the prisoners who have been detained as political and security prisoners be freed soon. “I had a cabin visit with him on Monday, and, thank God, his health was good. With his strong spirit, he deals with his problems in prison,” she said.