Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

https://www.iranrights.org
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One Person’s Story

Nima Aminzadeh (Ahani)

About

Age: 30
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Single

Case

Date of Killing: February 24, 2009
Location of Killing: Astara, Gilan Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Extrajudicial shooting
Charges: Assault and battery
Age at time of offense: 30

About this Case

was fatally shot three times by officers while completely unarmed and unable to flee

Information regarding the death of Mr. Nima Aminzadeh (Ahani) son of Masoumeh and Adel, has been obtained through Boroumand Center research and interviews with Mr. Adel Aminzadeh (September 26 and 27, 2017) and Mr. Hamid Aminzadeh (July 19 and 31, 2017, and September 25, 2017). Additional information in this regard was obtained through Fars News (February 27, 2009), Asr-e-Iran website (February 24, 2009), Laton News (February 27, 2009), neighbors’ testimony, and court documents related to the Aminzadeh family’s lawsuits. 

Mr. Nima Aminzadeh was born on June 20, 1978 in the city of Astara, Iran. He had a high school diploma and never married. He worked as a real estate agent. Mr. Aminzadeh's father described him as an honest, kind, and lively youth with an interest in sports. According to him, Nima was very popular among the people of Astara (Boroumand interview with Mr. Adel Aminzadeh, September 27, 2017). According to Mr. Nima Aminzadeh's brother, Nima was not involved in any political activity (Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Hamid Aminzadeh, July 31, 2017). In 1984, Mr. Aminzadeh's father changed the surname of the family from Ahani to Aminzadeh.

Mr. Aminzadeh's Death

According to available information, at 6:00 PM on February 24, 2009, law enforcement officers took action to arrest Mr. Nima Aminzadeh on Farabi Street in the city of Astara. While arresting Mr. Aminzadeh, the officers shot him three times and killed him. At the time of the arrest, Mr. Nima Aminzadeh was not carrying any weapons, and the bullets were shot from a very close distance, while he was not able to escape.

A number of local residents who witnessed the incident signed testimony explaining the event (the neighbors’ testimony is available at the Boroumand Center). According to Mr. Hamid Aminzadeh, Mr. Nima Aminzadeh’s brother, on the day of the incident Nima was in a store near their home to repair his cell phone. Several law enforcement officers, attempting to arrest him, forcefully took him out of the store. At this time, Mr. Aminzadeh started fighting with an officer who was pulling his clothing from behind. Mr. Hamid Aminzadeh quoted Nima’s other brother, Mohammad, who witnessed the incident and said that at the time of the arrest a police officer lowered himself on one knee, put his gun behind Nima's legs, and shot. Nima fell on the ground and pulled himself into a computer game arcade. Meanwhile, the officer shot at Nima’s waist and the bullet hit the store’s security glass and ultimately hit the arcade’s owner after injuring Nima. The police officer then walked into the store and fired the third bullet to Nima's chest. Other officers entered the store and started beating Nima with their boots and batons, then grabbed Nima's foot and took him to the sidewalk outside the store. Mr. Amin Aminzadeh, Nima’s older brother, came out of their home after hearing the screams and gunfire and threw himself on Nima’s injured and bloody body. At this time, police officers attacked Amin and after beating him, handcuffed him on the bed of the police’s pickup truck. Police officers then put Nima’s injured body in the same pickup truck and transferred them both to the hospital (Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Hamid Aminzadeh, July 19, 2017).

Officials’ failure to deliver Mr. Nima Aminzadeh’s body to his family and their refusal to issue a death certificate were among the issues that raised doubt and ambiguity for Aminzadeh’s family regarding the exact manner and time of Nima’s death. However, Nima’s father, who was able to visit Nima in the hospital, stated that he had seen injuries on Nima’s chest and feet and declared that Nima died due to these injuries and that he personally closed Nima’s eyes after his death (Boroumand Center interviews with Mr. Adel Aminzadeh, September 26 and 27, 2017).

According to a report by Laton News, a wounded Mr. Nima Aminzadeh was taken to the Mohammadzadeh Hospital in the city of Astara by the police. Physicians' efforts to save his life were not successful and he died in the hospital (Laton News, February 27, 2009).

Mr. Nima Aminzadeh was 30 at the time of his death.

Officials’ Reaction

According to officials, the attempt to arrest Mr. Nima Aminzadeh was part of plan to deal with thugs. In their coverage of Mr. Aminzadeh’s death at police hands during his arrest, official media outlets claimed that he was known as “Iron Man” and engaged in many criminal activities, such as armed extortion (Asr-e-Iran website, February 24, 2009 and Laton News, February 27, 2009).

The Imam for Friday prayers in Astara described Mr. Nima Aminzadeh as one of the criminals and villains of the region, and expressed appreciation of what police did in dealing with the city of Astara's thugs (Fars News, February 27, 2009).

According to available information, police officers arrested Mr. Nima Aminzadeh’s older brother (Amin), who was present at the scene of the incident, and handcuffed him to the bed of their pickup truck and transferred him to the hospital with Nima. Police declared that Mr. Amin Aminzadeh was arrested for screaming, cursing, and resisting the police officers. According to Mr. Hamid Aminzadeh, Amin went outside the home when he heard gunfire. Amin then threw himself on Nima's wounded body, hugged him, and began to cry. A few months later, Mr. Amin Aminzadeh was sentenced to imprisonment based on this charge.

The police officers arrested Nima’s other brother Hamid in the hospital after identifying him and held him and Amin in detention for eight days. Mr. Hamid Aminzadeh stated: “After the arrest, the police commander of Astara came to me and got up in my face and said: I give you my condolences, I killed your brother, he is dead, and now we are relieved. He provoked me, he played with my emotions, so that I’d hit him, to use that against me”. The Intelligence officers released Hamid and Amin after they signed a commitment letter that they would cease wielding bladed weapons, brawling, and thuggery (Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Hamid Aminzadeh, July 19, 2017).

Mr. Aminzadeh's father in an interview with the Boroumand Center stated that after six months of follow-up in order to receive Nima’s body, a commission was formed in the office of the ideological-political office of the Gilan provincial government in the city of Rasht. One of the law enforcement officers at the meeting questioned him thus: “How many boys do you have? I replied I had four boys. He said: It's not a big deal, we did it [killed one of them] to scare others. I said I did not come here for you to tell me why you’ve killed my son, I came here to take my son's body to Astara. He said: What is the difference between Astara and Rasht? Let his body stay here. I cried. He said: Don’t cause us or yourself any headaches: please leave.” Mr. Adel Aminzadeh also stated that the authorities forced him to pay for the ambulance that transferred Nima’s body from Astara to Rasht and also for the bullets that were used to shoot Nima in order to receive his body. Finally, in order to hand over Nima’s body, the authorities asked Mr. Aminzadeh to talk to the owner of the computer game arcade, who was injured during the incident, to persuade him not to bring a lawsuit against police. However, the body was not delivered to the family even after all these conditions were fulfilled (Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Adel Aminzadeh, September 26, 2017).

Officials told Nima’s father we killed your son to scare others…

According to Mr. Nima Aminzadeh's brother, following the family’s complaint against Nima's killer, in an unofficial meeting, the investigating officer asked Nima's assailant about his reasons for shooting Nima. He replied that he was afraid of him and shot him (Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Hamid Aminzadeh, July 19, 2017).

Mr. Aminzadeh's brother claimed that judicial and police officials insisted on trumping up a lawsuit against Nima. According to him, in one case Nima was accused of raping a girl. After the family’s follow up and meeting with the girl and her family, it was found that the charge was basically false and that there was no case against Nima (Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Hamid Aminzadeh, July 19, 2017).

According to available information, following Mr. Adel Aminzadeh’s filing a complaint against his son’s killer, a case with the charge of unintentional murder was filed in the first branch of the Public and Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Court in Astara. The suit was ordered closed with an order of non-prosecution on February 25, 2010. The court issuing an acquittal held no session. Mr. Aminzadeh appealed the decision, which Branch 101 of the Criminal Court ultimately confirmed (Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Hamid Aminzadeh, July 19, 2017 and official documents available at Boroumand Center).

Familys’ Reaction

Aminzadeh's family rejected the accusations that Mr. Nima Aminzadeh was a thug and stated that they had doubts about the reasons the police officer gave for arresting and shooting Nima. They stated that Mr. Nima Aminzadeh had no criminal record and no history of political activity. According to him, all the family's requests from the authorities to present their alleged legal cases against Nima or any evidence of his being a thug were rejected (Boroumand Center interviews with Mr. Adel Aminzadeh, September 26, 2017 and Mr. Hamid Aminzadeh, July 19, 2017).

Mr. Nima Aminzadeh’s father announced that he and Nima’s mother had sent off complaints to various authorities including the judiciary, the Supreme Court, the NAJA inspection office, parliament, the presidency, and others. He also stated that after one year, when he went in person to the judiciary office in Tehran, he found out that none of the complaints and letters had been delivered and that the Astara Post Office had refused to send his correspondence on the orders of the law enforcement authorities. He added: “Then they said that I should hire a lawyer. No attorneys in Astara accepted our case, reasoning that they [the authorities] forced us not to accept our case. They [the authorities] introduced a lawyer to us from the city of Ardabil. I paid him twenty million Rials, but the lawyer did not show up at all” (Boroumand Center Interview with Mr. Adel Aminzadeh, September 26, 2017).

Based on available information, on March 11, 2009, Aminzadeh's family sent a written request to the Governor's Political Deputy of Gilan to hand over Nima's body to the family and pledged that the funeral would be held in peace and quiet. In that letter they referred to the payment of one million Rials to the Office of Public Police Facilities and announced their readiness to pay any other expenses. Despite all efforts, the responsible authorities have not handed over Mr. Nima Aminzadeh's body to the family (official documents available at Boroumand Center).

Mr. Nima Aminzadeh’s father stated that when he visited the Rasht cemetery, called Ba’q-e-Rezvan, he gave Nima’s name and date of death to the cemetery’s office and they showed him a grave and claimed that Nima was buried there (Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Adel Aminzadeh, September 27, 2017).

Failure to deliver Nima’s body to his family and refusal to issue a death certificate were among the issues that raised doubt and ambiguity for Aminzadeh’s family regarding the exact manner and time of their son’s death

However, Nima's mother continued travelling to Tehran and Rasht in hopes of receiving Nima’s body and also to follow up on her complaint. According to Mr. Nima Aminzadeh’s brother: “Two years ago (2015) was the last time my mother traveled to the Office of the Supreme Leader of Iran (Beit-e Rahbari) in Tehran. 15 days later, the Police Commander of Gilan invited me and my mother [to his office]. We went to Rasht. After a long conversation, he wrote a number on a paper and said: Take this to the Ba’q-e-Rezvan. This is the number (code) of your brother’s grave. Now you can go there and mourn and pray, and do whatever you want. Before taking the paper, I asked him: Will you let us conduct an exhumation? He said: No. I said: Will you let us watch the video tape and the photos that you took when you buried the body? He said: No. Then I said: How can I be sure that this is my brother’s grave? I don’t want this code. He replied: It is what it is, if you don’t want the code, get out my office. Then we left the office without the code” (Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Hamid Aminzadeh, July 19, 2017).

Impacts on Family

According to the available information Aminzadeh's family faced problems other than the loss of their child. These included agents monitoring them and questioning their friends and relatives for visiting the family; the framing, arrest, and sentencing of Nima’s other brothers on the basis of meritless accusations; and threats and pressure against Nima’s mother to dissuade her from pursuing the case.

Nima's brother: “We’re not out for revenge, we just want them [the authorities] to apologize, ...we want them to declare that there was a mistake, ...we want them to apologize” 

Mr. Nima Aminzadeh's father explained his family's situation after Nima’s death: “We are all dead, our spirits are dead. We cannot say anything at all, we are all dead, we are all sick. I was crying so much that my eyes went blind. Nima was my son, my young man. My other sons neither have the right to speak nor to be hired” (Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Adel Aminzadeh, September 26, 2017).

Mr. Nima Aminzadeh's brother declared that he was opposed to executing Nima's murderer and explained: “We’re not out for revenge, we just want them [the authorities] to apologize, the people in Astara are judging us, we want them [the authorities] to declare that there was a mistake, there was a misunderstanding, we want them to apologize” (Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Hamid Aminzadeh, July 19, 2017).

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