Execution Imminent of Prisoner in Iran Despite Unfair Trial and Credible Allegations of Torture
Lawyer: “Ramin’s case is being processed against ethical standards and existing laws. We have to try to save Ramin’s life.”
*Editor’s Update: Ramin Hossein Panahi has been moved out of solitary confinement in Sanandaj Prison to a public ward, indicating his death sentence may be suspended.
May 2, 2018—Iranian judicial officials should immediately stop the implementation of an execution order against Ramin Hossein Panahi and allow a review of his death sentence in a fair process with the presence of his lawyer, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) urged in a statement today.
Amjad Hossein Panahi told CHRI that his brother Ramin, who had been held in the Central Prison in Sanandaj, in Kurdistan Province, has been transferred to an unknown location and the authorities are refusing to respond to questions from family members.
“Executing this prisoner amid credible, international concerns over his torture and an unfair trial is a blatant abandonment of the rule of law,” said CHRI’s Executive Director Hadi Ghaemi.
“This is the kind of action, now routine in Iran, that has destroyed the Iranian Judiciary’s credibility,” Ghaemi added.
United Nations human rights experts have called for Iran to annul the death sentence against the Iranian Kurdish prisoner amid serious concerns that he has not received a fair trial and has been mistreated and tortured in detention.
Amjad Hossein Panahi, who is a political and human rights activist based in Europe, said his other brother Afshin, who is imprisoned in Sanandaj, contacted their parents by phone and said that security agents carrying an execution order took Ramin away to an unknown location on Tuesday, May 1.
“One of the agents told my brother inside the prison that the execution is scheduled to be carried out on Thursday morning [May 3] but did not say where they were taking him. We don’t know if he’s in quarantine in solitary confinement in Sanandaj prison or in the Intelligence Ministry’s detention center and the court has not responded to the family’s inquiries,” Amjad said.
In a note sent to CHRI, Ramin’s lawyer, Hossein Ahmadiniaz, said his client’s life was in imminent danger even though the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the death sentence had not been formally delivered.
“Today [Tuesday, May 1] I went to the office of the Supreme Court to check on Ramin Hossein Panahi’s latest situation but unfortunately I was informed that the preliminary court’s death sentence had been upheld and the case was transferred to Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj,” Ahmadiniaz said.
He added: “The court’s ruling has not been handed to me yet and I am now going to the Sanandaj Central Prison to see why the law is being violated. But what’s important is that Ramin Hossein Panahi’s life is in danger and it is feared that anything could happen. This is an unusual situation and Ramin’s case is being processed against ethical standards and existing laws. We have to try to save Ramin’s life.”
According to Iran’s Criminal Procedures, judicial authorities are required to allow the prisoner to have a last meeting with his family before execution but this had not happened as of late Tuesday, May 1.
An informed source told CHRI that there is a possibility that Ramin has been transferred for further interrogations.
“Prisoners have a legal right to have a last meeting with their family, even though this has not always been honored and many executions have taken place in Tehran without it, or the authorities have claimed they contacted the family and no one showed up,” the source said on condition of anonymity.
“In this case, a meeting has not taken place with the family. There is still one day left but I hope he has been taken to face more interrogations or, as has previously been the case, he has been taken to be evaluated about the cost of possible reactions to the execution. Nevertheless, circumstances call for friends, family and everyone to make an effort,” the source added.
“When a person’s sentence has been confirmed and he’s transferred to solitary confinement before execution, that person is very fragile and agents sometimes use this to get televised confessions for political gains and to help them carry out their schemes. Given this, the media and human rights activists should all try to increase the cost of his execution and foil any potential schemes.”
Ramin Hossein Panahi’s lawyer told CHRI that during the investigation and interrogation process his client’s refusal to give a televised confession led to his solitary confinement for a long period without access to legal counsel or his family.
Ramin Hossein Panahi, 24, is a Kurdish political activist who was arrested on June 24, 2017, after being injured in an ambush by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) against members of Komala, a Kurdish nationalist group.
After a brief trial on January 25, 2018, Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj sentenced him to death based on the wrongful conviction of being a member of Komala and drawing a weapon.
“Pressures exerted by IRGC interrogators to extract confessions and influence the judicial process, along with the court’s verdict, raise grave doubts regarding the implementation of justice in cases when one side is represented by the IRGC,” Ghaemi said. “Iran’s Judiciary has shown that it lacks the will and ability to implement justice.”