Hamid Ahmadi, Arrested When He Was Just 17 Years Old, Faces Imminent Execution
February 13, 2017
The execution of Hamid Ahmadi, an Iranian man arrested when he was just 17 years old, has been rescheduled for 18 February. He continues to be held in solitary confinement in Lakan prison in the city of Rasht, northern Iran, further exacerbating his mental anguish.
The family of Hamid Ahmadi has been informed that his execution has been rescheduled for 18 February. The execution was initially scheduled for 4 February but the authorities postponed it by a week to 11 February. Following mounting international pressure, on 9 February, the Office for the Implementation of Sentences informed his family that his execution had again been postponed and that they had 10 days within which to obtain a pardon from the family of the deceased, the young man whom Hamid Ahmadi was convicted of fatally stabbing in 2008. Hamid Ahmadi was moved to solitary confinement in Rasht’s Lakan prison, Gilan Province, on 28 January, in preparation for his execution. Though his execution has been postponed twice in two weeks, the authorities have yet to move him back into a general ward. This is the fifth time that Hamid Ahmadi has been scheduled to be executed and subjected to the mental anguish of being kept in solitary confinement while he awaits his execution. The Supreme Court has still not communicated a decision regarding his application for retrial to his lawyers.
Hamid Ahmadi, now 26, was first sentenced to death in August 2009 following an unfair trial before Branch 11 of the Provincial Criminal Court of Gilan Province, in connection with the fatal stabbing of a young man during a fight among a group of boys in 2008. The court relied on “confessions” he had made at the police station after his arrest, when he did not have access to a lawyer or his family. He has said that the “confessions” were obtained under torture. He says that police officers held him for three days in a filthy, urine-stained cell; tied his hands and feet together and pushed him face down on the cell floor; tied him to a pole in the yard; kicked his genitals; and denied him food and water. He has said that the pain inflicted on him was so severe that he was willing to confess to anything to end it. The authorities are not known to have investigated his torture allegations.
Please write immediately in Persian, English, Spanish, French or your own language:
n Urging the Iranian authorities to immediately halt any plans to execute Hamid Ahmadi, and immediately establish an official moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty;
n Urging them to ensure his conviction and sentence are quashed and he is granted a fair retrial in accordance with the principles of juvenile justice, without resort to the death penalty, in particular ensuring that no statements obtained through torture or other ill-treatment or without the presence of his lawyer are admitted as evidence;
n Calling them to ensure that his allegations of torture and other ill-treatment are investigated and that those responsible are held to account in trials that meet international fair trial standards;
n Urging them to amend Article 91 of the 2013 Islamic Penal Code to completely abolish, without any discretion by the courts or other exceptions, the use of the death penalty for crimes committed by people below the age of 18, in line with Iran’s obligations under international law.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 27 MARCH 2017 TO:
Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani
c/o Public Relations Office
Number 4, Deadend of 1 Azizi
Above Pasteur Intersection
Vali Asr Street, Tehran, Iran
Salutation: Your Excellency
Prosecutor General of Tehran
Tehran General and Revolutionary Prosecution Office
Corner (Nabsh-e) of 15 Khordad Square Tehran, Iran
Salutation: Your Excellency
And copies to:
Pasteur Street, Pasteur Square
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below:
Name Address 1 Address 2 Address 3 Fax Fax number Email Email address Salutation Salutation
Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date. This is the second update of UA 296/15. Further information: www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde13/5594/2017/en/
Hamid Ahmadi was arrested on 5 May 2008 after he contacted the police to report the stabbing of a young man during a fight involving five individuals, an incident in which he said he played no direct role. After his death sentence was passed by Branch 11 of the Provincial Criminal Court of Gilan Province, Branch 27 of the Supreme Court overturned the verdict in November 2009 on the grounds that it was entirely based on testimony from witnesses whose credibility was in doubt. The case was subsequently sent back to Branch 11 of the Provincial Criminal Court of Gilan for retrial. During the retrial, Hamid Ahmadi retracted his earlier “confessions” and stated that he had made them under torture at the police station. The court did not investigate his torture allegations and instead relied on his “confessions” and circumstantial evidence to convict him of murder and resentence him to death. The court used the Iranian legal principle of “knowledge of the judge”, which allows judges to convict an accused person based on the judge’s subjective view, even when the facts do not meet the threshold of “guilt beyond reasonable doubt”, which is the internationally recognized standard of proof in criminal cases. Branch 27 of the Supreme Court upheld the verdict in November 2010. Between May 2014 and February 2015, Hamid Ahmadi twice requested that the Supreme Court quash his sentence and send his case back for retrial, once after a witness retracted his testimony and the other when a new witness stepped forward. Both requests were denied.
In May 2015, Hamid Ahmadi was taken to the Legal Medicine Organization of Iran (a state forensic institution under the supervision of the judiciary that conducts diagnostic and clinical examinations in relation to criminal cases) for an assessment of his maturity at the time of the alleged crime. The assessment was arranged by his family after the authorities in Rasht’s Lakan prison told juvenile offenders on death row to contact their families and ask that they book an appointment for them with the Legal Medicine Organization. The Legal Medicine Organization concluded that it could not determine Hamid Ahmadi’s level of maturity at the time of the crime.
Hamid Ahmadi also faced execution in May 2015 when his execution was halted at the last minute due to public pressure. Following this, he was granted a retrial based on new juvenile sentencing provisions in Iran’s 2013 Islamic Penal Code. However, the Provincial Criminal Court of Gilan Province sentenced him to death for the second time in December 2015. In early 2015, Hamid Ahmadi requested a retrial based on Article 91 of the 2013 Islamic Penal Code, which gives judges the discretion to replace the death penalty with an alternative punishment if they determine that the juvenile offender did not understand the nature of the crime or its consequences, or that there were doubts about his or her “mental growth and maturity” at the time of the crime. On 25 June 2015, Branch 35 of the Supreme Court agreed to Hamid Ahmadi’s request, leading to a retrial before a differently constituted court in the Provincial Criminal Court of Gilan Province. In December 2015, the court sentenced him to death again after concluding that he had attained mental maturity at the time of the crime. This conclusion was reached after one brief session in which the judge asked Hamid Ahmadi a series of questions that were unrelated to his case – questions such as “what job does your brother-in-law have and where does he work?” and “how much does your father earn?”. The court also referred to his circumstances at the time of the crime, including his father’s alleged drug addiction.
Iran is a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which absolutely prohibit the imposition of the death penalty on persons who were below 18 years of age at the time of the crime. However, the Iranian authorities continue to impose the death penalty on juvenile offenders and frequently defers the execution until after they have passed the age of 18. Amnesty International has recorded at least 77 executions of juvenile offenders between 2005 and 2017, including two in 2017. For further information, see Growing up on death row: The death penalty and juvenile offenders in Iran, 26 January 2016 (Index: MDE 13/3112/2016), https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde13/3112/2016/en/