Father and Son Political Prisoners Kept on Death Row in Iran For Eight Years Despite Deteriorating Health
Two prisoners of conscience who have been behind bars for nearly a decade in Tehran’s Evin Prison have been denied medical leave despite suffering from serious illnesses, a source with knowledge about their conditions told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
Mohsen Daneshpour Moghaddam has developed Alzheimer’s Disease and his son, Ahmad Daneshpour Moghaddam, is afflicted with severe intestinal problems, the source told CHRI on March 6, 2018.
Furlough, temporary leave typically granted to prisoners in Iran for a variety of familial, holiday, and medical reasons, is routinely denied to political prisoners as a form of additional punishment.
According to Article 502 of Iran’s Criminal Procedure regulations: “If a prisoner is suffering from physical or mental illness and his imprisonment would make his illness worse or delay his recovery, the judge can postpone the sentence being served until the prisoner regains his health after consultation with his physician.”
The source also told CHRI that the Daneshpours’ situation has been compounded by the legal uncertainty of being on death row.
“They have been living under the death sentence for eight years and their requests for judicial reviews have been left unanswered,” said the source. “They don’t know where they stand and given their poor health, something awful could happen to them at any moment.”
On January 18, 2010, Judge Abolqasem Salavati of Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced the Daneshpours to death for the charge of “moharebeh” or armed confrontation against the state for their alleged contact with the banned Mojahedin-e Khalgh (MEK) organization. The sentence was later upheld on appeal.
According to Article 279 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, “Moharebeh is defined as drawing a weapon on the life, property or chastity of people or to cause terror as it creates the atmosphere of insecurity.”
It remains unclear whether either of the men ever violated this law.
“Mohsen is 74-years-old. They gave him a wooden leg after a knee operation in 2016 and unfortunately he now has advanced Alzheimer’s and his condition isn’t good,” the source told CHRI. “He doesn’t recognize anyone. The medical examiner has confirmed he has Alzheimer’s.”
“His son Ahmad has ulcerative colitis and he can’t eat or digest properly,” added the source. “He has lost more than 40 kilos (88 lbs.) but he’s still being a nurse to his father.”
The father and son were arrested on December 27, 2009, along with Mohsen Daneshpour’s wife, Motahareh Bahrami Haghighi, as well as Reyhaneh Haj Ebrahim Dabbagh and Hadi Ghaemi. At the time, there were protests around the city—a continuation of the mass demonstrations that broke out against the contested presidential re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that year.
In January 2010, Haghighi, Dabbagh and Ghaemi were also sentenced to death for “moharebeh” by Judge Salavati but the Appeals Court reduced Haghighi’s sentence to 10 years in prison and Dabbagh’s and Ghaemi’s sentences to 15 years in prison each.
Dabbagh married Ahmad Daneshpour in prison.
“Ms. Bahrami [Haghighi] was released from prison in 2014 because she was physically in bad shape from rheumatoid arthritis in her spine and neck. But she is not allowed to leave the city of Karaj (west of Tehran),” the source told CHRI. “Whenever she wants to visit her relatives in Evin Prison in Tehran, she needs to get clearance from the Karaj security police. So she’s virtually under house arrest.”
“Ms. Haj Ebrahim [Dabbagh], who was engaged to Ahmad Daneshpour before their arrest, married Ahmad in Evin Prison,” added the source. “She also has serious intestinal ailments and has been on medical leave for the past several months. But Mohsen and Ahmad Daneshpour are still being held in Evin Prison on death row.”
In 2015, journalist Bahman Ahmadi Amouee, who was imprisoned for five years for allegedly supporting the Green Movement and was cellmates with the Daneshpours, confirmed Mohsen’s illness.
“Mr. [Mohsen] Daneshpour Moghaddam has Alzheimer’s. He can’t even recognize his own son who’s in the same cell with him. But the authorities still won’t let him go free,” Amouee told Rooz Online, a news and commentary website run by Iranian expatriates, on January 29, 2015.