Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

https://www.iranrights.org
Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Javad (Bahram) Saberi

About

Age: 24
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Single

Case

Date of Killing: April 16, 2015
Location of Killing: Gohardasht Prison, Karaj, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Murder; Drug possession
Age at time of offense: 17

About this Case

News of the execution of Mr. Javad (Bahram) Saberi, along with four others, was published on the websites of Jam-e Jam on April 16, 2015, Javanonline on April 17, 2015, and the Iran Human Rights Organization on May 3, 2015.

His case was related to the death of a 17-year-old worker due to severe bleeding caused by knife wounds, and injuring of two others, in a restaurant in Eslamshahr on September 21, 2008. Mr. Saberi was a worker at the restaurant and less than 18 years old at the time of the committed crime.

International laws have strictly prohibited capital punishment against those who were under the age of 18 at the time of committing the crime. As a party to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Iran has the obligation to avoid capital punishment for an offence committed before the age of eighteen.

Arrest and detention

Mr. Saberi was arrested by police agents of Station 11 in Eslamshahr in a northern city (Javanonline). According to the Iran Human Rights Organization, he was arrested and taken to the prison on September 24, 2008. The circumstances of his arrest and detention are not known.

Trial

Branch 74 of the Tehran Criminal Court tried Mr. Saberi. No information is available on his trial.

Charges

The charge brought against Mr. Saberi was announced as “murder.” (Jamejam and Javanonline) According to the Iran Human Rights Organization, he was additionally charged with “possession of methamphetamines.”         

The validity of the criminal charges brought against this defendant cannot be ascertained in the absence of the basic guarantees of a fair trial.  International human rights organizations have drawn attention to reports indicating that the Islamic Republic authorities have brought trumped-up charges, including drug trafficking, sexual, and other criminal offences, against their opponents (including political, civil society activists, as well as unionists and ethnic and religious minorities). Each year Iranian authorities sentence to death hundreds of alleged common criminals, following judicial processes that fail to meet international standards. The exact number of people convicted and executed based on trumped-up charges is unknown.

Evidence of guilt

The evidence presented against Mr. Saberi was his “confession” and testimonies of the restaurant’s workers (Jamejam and Javanonline), and “possession of 20 centigrams of methamphetamine.” (Iran Human Rights Organization)

International human rights organizations have repeatedly condemned the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran for its systematic use of severe torture and solitary confinement to obtain confessions from detainees and have questioned the authenticity of confessions obtained under duress.

Defense

According to the Iran Human Rights Organization, Mr. Saberi was 17 years and 10 months old when the incident occurred and was not 18. He also suffered from a psychological illness and had been hospitalized at Aminabad Psychiatric Facility for a period before his execution.

A Summary of the Defects of  Mr. Javad Saberi’s Legal Proceedings

According to certain reports, Javad Saberi was 17 years and 10 months old at the time of the murder. Although the age of criminal responsibility in Iranian law is the age where an individual reaches puberty, and Mr. Saberi had reached puberty at the time of the murder, the change in the Islamic Penal Code in 2013, provides individuals under the age of 18 with the possibility of being exempt from the death penalty. Pursuant to Article 91 of said Law, “In crimes requiring Hadd or Qesas, if the individuals under the age of 18 who have attained puberty cannot comprehend the nature of the crime or the prohibition thereof, or if there is doubt as to their mental development [and capacity] and maturity, they will be sentenced to the punishments prescribed in this chapter on a case by case basis. In order to ascertain mental development and maturity, the court may obtain the medical examiner’s opinion, or utilize any other method it deems appropriate.” Although the murder occurred prior to the passage of said Law, the Law does, however, apply retroactively, and covers final judgments issued prior to the passage of the Law. According to a Supreme Court General Council Uniform Procedure Decision, “Whereas Article 10(b) of the Islamic Penal Code of April 21, 2013 provides for exemption from crimes requiring Hadd and Qesas punishments in said Article’s opening provision, and whereas the powers prescribed for the sentence implementation judge in amending a sentence and/or the convicted individual’s right to ask the court for a reduced sentence as provided for in said paragraph is not in conflict with the Law on General and Revolutionary Courts Rules of Criminal Procedure Article 272, Paragraph 7, and does not nullify the same, therefore, in the event that individuals sentenced to Qesas, who were under the age of 18 at the time of the commission of the crime and the final sentences in their cases were issued prior to the Islamic Penal Code of April 21, 2013, coming into force, claim the applicability of Article 91, since the modification and reduction of the sentence as provided for in said article ultimately constitutes a reduced sentence and a more favorable punishment, they may ask for de novo adjudication pursuant to Article 272(7) of the aforementioned Rules of Procedure...” (Uniform Procedure Decision number 737, December 2, 2014, Supreme Court General Council). In the present case, it appears that judicial authorities did not believe that Javad Saberi was not mentally developed and mature at the time of the murder. Generally speaking, however, a 17-year-old individual can hardly understand the nature of his/her actions as would an adult. There is no unified procedure in Iranian courts to ascertain a person’s mental development and maturity. What courts generally take into account is the defendant’s conduct at the time of the murder and thereafter. Lack of a unified procedure, and not making proper use of specialized medical and psychological capabilities, has resulted in certain defendants under the age of 18 being found as lacking mental development and maturity in certain cases, and as mentally developed and mature in other similar cases, and therefore subject to the death penalty. It therefore appears that Article 91 is not applied to certain juvenile offenders in a methodical and well thought out manner. Furthermore, pursuant to Article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Iran became a signatory in 1993, issuance of a death sentence for individuals who were under the age of 18 at the time of the commission of the crime is prohibited. Additionally, according to Article 6(5) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, it is prohibited to issue a sentence of death for individuals under the age of 18. Even though the Iranian government made certain reservations when becoming a party to both of these conventions, violation of these conventions constitutes, however, a breach of its obligations and of international laws and regulations.

Judgment

Branch 74 of the Tehran Criminal Court condemned Mr. Javad (Bahram) Saberi to death and Branch 27 of the Supreme Court confirmed the ruling. He was hanged, along with four others, at the Gohardasht Prison yard in Karaj on April 16, 2015. According to the Iran Human Rights Organization, Mr. Saberi was also condemned to 30 lashes and paying a fine for possession of narcotics. The lash ruling had been carried out on June 16, 2013.   

Correct/ Complete This Entry