Imprisoned Lawyer’s Husband Rejects Judiciary’s Accusation of “Exaggerating” Her Heavy Sentence
“The authorities…refuse to accept the fact that they have condemned a woman lawyer to suffer the inhuman act of flogging and a long prison sentence because of activities that were entirely peaceful.” –Reza Khandan, husband of Nasrin Sotoudeh
Imprisoned human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh’s husband, Reza Khandan, has rejected Iranian Judiciary Spokesman Gholam-Hossein Esmaili’s claim that the magnitude of the sentence against her has been exaggerated.
“They are playing games,” Esmaili said at a press conference in Tehran on April 23, referring to the outcry over the harsh punishment against Sotoudeh for her defense of peaceful activists and her opposition to the mandatory hijab.
The Judiciary Spokesman added: “The so-called legal experts are being misleading rather than transparent and honest. The Islamic Penal Code (Article 134) states that in case of multiple sentences only the most severe punishment will be enforced.”
On March 11, 2019, Sotoudeh, 55, was sentenced to 33 years in prison and 148 lashes on seven charges: “assembly and collusion against national security,” “propaganda against the state,” “membership in the Defenders of Human Rights Center, the Legam group [against the death penalty] and the National Peace Council,” “encouraging people to corruption and prostitution,” “appearing at the judiciary without Islamic hijab,” “disturbing public peace and order” and “publishing falsehoods with the intent to disturb public opinion.”
She would be eligible for release after serving 12 years for the heaviest sentence, which was “encouraging people to “corruption and prostitution.”
“Mr. Esmaili says we should have only talked about the 12-year prison sentence,” said Reza Khandan in response to the Judiciary Spokesman. “But we weren’t the ones who issued the verdict. The judge sentenced her to 33 years in prison based on seven charges. That’s what the verdict exactly says.”
Speaking to the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on April 24, Sotoudeh’s husband added: “This shows the authorities can’t even defend their own court verdict and refuse to accept the fact that they have condemned a woman lawyer to suffer the inhuman act of flogging and a long prison sentence because of activities that were entirely peaceful.”
Meanwhile the Judiciary Spokesman also told reporters that there was still a possibility that Sotoudeh’s punishment may be reduced on appeal.
However, in protest against the sentence, Sotoudeh has refused to lodge an appeal.