Revolutionary Court Sentences Fifteen Baha’is to Prison on Baseless Charges
A Revolutionary Court has sentenced fifteen Baha’is to between 1.5 and 3.5 years in prison on charges of “propaganda against the state” and “assembly and collusion against national security,” but their lawyer told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that there is no evidence in their case files to support these charges. Giti Pourfazel, the lawyer representing the 15 individuals told the Campaign that when she asked to see the court’s evidence, she was refused.
“Lawyers are not given the evidence and documents in security-related cases, and these documents are not kept inside the case files, either. There is only one report from the Intelligence Ministry, based upon which the judge makes his decision. I did ask them to show me the evidence on which my clients’ convictions were based, but I was told that ‘the documents are confidential and they cannot be shown to you,'” Ms. Pourfazel told the Campaign.
“Based on what was said in court and during the interrogations, records of which were available in the case file, the reasons for their charges were, for example, their trips to Dubai and India and contacting fellow Baha’is there. But mere contact with fellow believers and carrying out religious affairs cannot be used as evidence for a crime,” she added. “Also, [their case files indicated] that they performed their religious duties inside their own homes in groups. But none of these are considered concrete and sound bases for proving the charges of ‘propaganda against the state,’ and ‘collusion and assembly,’ and they are not considered [admissible] legal documents,” she added.
Asked why there are different sentences for the same charges, Ms. Pourfazel told the Campaign that “in the court’s view, some of them had more limited and fewer activities in relation to the two charges, while some had more and bolder activities which led to their heavier sentences. For example, one of them had only gone on a trip to Dubai or India once, while another had made several trips and had visited the Baha’i Temple on each trip, or had been in contact with his/her fellow believers.”
Shiraz security forces arrested the fifteen individuals in a coordinated raid on the homes of 30 Baha’i citizens in February 2012. They were released on bail in April 2012. The group was put on trial on security charges at Branch Three of Shiraz Revolutionary Court under Judge Rashidi, and the last court session for the group was held in April 2014.
Four female suspects in the case have each been sentenced to 1.5 years in prison, but their sentences will be suspended for five years. Another four individuals have each been sentenced to 3.5 years in prison, and the remaining seven individuals have each been sentenced to 20 months in prison. The Campaign has been unable to learn the names of these Baha’i citizens.
Giti Pourfazel told the Campaign that all the individuals convicted in this case are ordinary citizens who are followers of the Baha’i faith and that none of them have ever had any criminal or judicial records. She will be appealing the rulings, she told the Campaign.