Kurdish Mechanic Sentenced to Death in Iran Despite Judge’s Acknowledgement of His Innocence
Iran’s Supreme Court upheld a death sentence against a 25-year-old Kurdish auto mechanic on false charges, the mechanic’s lawyer told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
Hedayat Abdollahpour was arrested in late June 2016 following a clash between members of the banned, separatist Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (DPIK), based in Northern Iraq, and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) near the city of Oshnavieh, in Iran’s West Azerbaijan Province, “even though he played no role in the clash and wasn’t even there,” said attorney Hossein Ahmadiniaz.
“One of the Supreme Court judges explicitly told me and his father that Hedayat was innocent because he had nothing to do with the clash and its aftermath, but the death sentence was confirmed because of pressure from Iranian military and security authorities in Kurdistan,” added Ahmadiniaz.
The Supreme Court initially struck down the death sentence and ordered a retrial at an unknown date. But on January 18, 2018, Abdollahpour was again condemned to death by Branch 2 of the Revolutionary Court in the city of Oroumiyeh for “cooperating with a Kurdish opposition group.”
Branch 47 of the Supreme Court upheld the sentence on October 7, 2018.
Armed rebellion is punishable by death according to Article 286 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, but Ahmadiniaz told CHRI that his client did nothing more than repair a car belonging to alleged DPIK members.
“Sometimes in Iran’s Kurdish regions, DPIK members arrive in villages at night and the people have to help them because they are all Kurds and know each other. If you don’t help, it causes trouble,” said Ahmadiniaz, referring to the intimidation villagers face by DPIK members and their supporters.
“It’s part of Kurdish tradition,” he added. “But in these situations, IRGC guards come the next day and say, why was help offered to these people?”
He continued: “So Hedayat was an auto mechanic who repaired breaks. He got a call that a car had broken down in one of the villages near Oshnavieh and the breaks needed repair. When he got there, he unknowingly found himself in the middle of a clash. He repaired the car and left the area and according to eyewitnesses, he played no role in the clash.”
“The pressure [in Iran to resist this group] is so intense… that the judicial process in these cases is unfair and the verdicts are primarily aimed at silencing the people in the region and discouraging them from joining protests and forcing them to take a stronger stand against Kurdish (opposition) groups,” said Ahmadiniaz.
On September 8, 2018, three Kurdish prisoners—Ramin Hossein Panahi, Zanyar Moradi and Loghman Moradi (no relation)—were executed in Tehran. Two days later, Kamal Ahmadinejad, an alleged member of the DPIK, was also executed in Miandoab Central Prison in West Azerbaijan.
The UN cited serious concerns regarding the use of torture, forced confessions and denials of access to counsel in the cases of Panahi and Zanyar Moradi and Loghman Moradi. Ahmadinejad’s family had also stated that he had been forced to make a false confession under torture.