Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Reza Sabzevari


Age: 31
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam (Shi'a)
Civil Status: Married


Date of Killing: July 27, 2016
Location of Killing: Central Prison (Vakilabad Prison), Mashhad, Khorasan\Khorasan-e Razavi Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Rape
Age at time of offense: 29

About this Case

a police officer charged with “sexual offenses”, while there was no evidence to prove his charges.

The news of Mr. Reza Sabzevari’s execution was published by Khorasan Newspaper on July 28, 2016 and Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) on July 27, 2016. Additional information on this execution was obtained through an electronic form sent by one of Mr. Sabzevari's acquaintances to the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center on April 29, 2018 (Electronic Form) and a comment made by an informed person on the news of this execution published by HRANA’s website on July 31, 2016 (Informed Person).

Mr. Sabzevari was married with two children and lived in the city of Neyshabour, Khorasan-e Razavi province. According to HRANA, Mr. Sabzevari was a police officer in the anti-narcotics division. However, according to an informed person, Mr. Sabzevari was an intelligence officer (intelligence and security investigator). One of the acquaintances of Mr. Sabzevari, described him as a faithful, experienced, educated, and upstanding person (Electronic Form).

Mr. Sabzevari’s case was related to “sexual offenses” (Khorasan Newspaper).

According to HRANA, Mr. Sabzevari was a police officer in the anti-narcotics division. However, according to an informed person, Mr. Sabzevari was an intelligence officer (intelligence and security investigator).

Arrest and detention

In 2015, surveillance and investigatory agencies in the city of Neyshabour identified Mr. Sabzevari as a suspect and arrested him following a series of preliminary investigations (Khorasan Newspaper). According to an informed person, Mr. Sabzevari was summoned to the Neyshabour judiciary while he was on duty on March 10, 2015. There, his weapon and radio were taken and he was kept in an unknown location for four months (Informed Person).

According to an acquaintance of Mr. Sabzevari’s, he was arrested without a warrant (Electronic Form).

Mr. Sabzevari was held in Mashhad Prison for a year and a half before he was executed. Mr. Sabzevari’s family’s last visit was a day before the execution was carried out (HRANA).


Branch 42 of the criminal court in Neyshabour tried Mr. Sabzevari (Khorasan Newspaper). According to available information, Mr. Sabzevari’s right to access a lawyer was denied (Electronic Form).

No information is available on details of Mr. Sabzevari’s trial.


According to the officials, Mr. Sabzevari was charged with “six counts of rape, illicit relations, assault, insulting officials” and other charges. An open-ended list of charges made the counts and nature of Mr. Sabzevari’s charges vague and unclear. The news report continues that Mr. Sabzevari “[abused] his authority, raped some women in his office” and “was arrested while he was [sexually] abusing a woman whose husband was arrested for forgery” (Khorasan Newspaper).  

The validity of the criminal charges brought against these defendants 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 Islamic Republic authorities have brought trumped-up charges against their political opponents and executed them for alleged drug trafficking, sexual, and other criminal offences. 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 based on trumped-up charges is unknown.

The counts and nature of Mr. Sabzevari’s charges are vague and unclear.

Evidence of guilt

According to available information, Mr. Sabzevari was convicted on the basis of “authentic documents and evidence and the complaint filed by some women who had been lured [by him]” (Khorasan Newspaper).


Available information about the reasons and manner of detention, proceedings, trail, and charges brought against Mr. Sabzevari is contradictory.

The Khorasan Newspaper reported that Mr. Sabzevari was convicted based on “authentic documents and evidence.” It is not clear, however, what is meant by “authentic documents and evidence” in this report. In the report of this execution, there are no references to the evidence brought against Mr. Sabzevari.

An acquaintance of Mr. Sabzevari stated that he “was sentenced to death for being honest, he was the only person who tried to reform things in a city full of corruption, where everyone supported injustice” and this was the reason for his arrest (Electronic Form).

According to an informed source’s comment on HRANA’s website, “some flagrantly corrupt women were brought there [to court] by force and intimidated by judiciary personnel and law enforcement officers into signing some previously prepared documents against [Mr. Sabzevari]. There is no evidence of his guilt.”

There was no evidence to prove Mr. Sabzevari's charges and he was arrested and tried because of “personal hostility of an influential person,” the source claims. In addition, Mr. Sabzevari was not allowed to defend himself, and the women who were named as plaintiffs against him “stated that they were forced to file the complaint with their written, fingerprinted, and signed consent” (Electronic Form).

Available information about Mr. Sabzevari’s access to a lawyer is conflicting. According to the Electronic Form’s sender, Mr. Sabzevari did not have access a lawyer. Khorasan Newspaper, without mentioning details, referred to “the appeal request made by Mr. Sabzevari and his lawyer” regarding the order issued by Criminal Court of Neyshabour, implying the presence of a lawyer in case proceedings.

No detailed information is available on Mr. Sabzevari's defense.

Information about the reasons and manner of detention, proceedings, and trail in this case is contradictory.


Branch 42 of the Criminal Court in Neyshabour sentenced Mr. Sabzevari to death. Branch 28 of the Supreme Court upheld the verdict.

Mr. Reza Sabzevari was hanged on July 27, 2016 in Mashhad Central Prison, in the presence of judges and other relevant authorities.

Mr. Sabzevari was 31 when he was executed.

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