Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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



Age: 31
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Married


Date of Killing: February 7, 2008
Location of Killing: Yazd Central Prison, Yazd, Yazd Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Homosexual rape; Murder

About this Case

News of execution of Mr. Abdozzahra(without mentioning his last name) was published by Etemad newspaper (February 1, 2008) and Yazd-e Farda website (February 7, 2008). Additional information about this case was obtained from Iran (October 29, 2007), Tehran-e Emrooz (January 31, 2008), Kayhan (November 18, 2007) newspapers, and from Yazd-e Farda website (April 13 and 14, 2007; October 28 and 31, 2007; December 22, 2007).

Mr. Abdozzahra was 31 years old and was born in a village in Khuzestan Province. He had had a difficult childhood and had a fifth grade education. Mr. Abdozzahra resided in the town of Taft in Yazd Province, was married and had two children – a 10-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son – and was a Taft government employee. Based on available information, he was a quiet individual with a good social reputation.

Mr. Abdozzahra’s case is related to the murder of four boys, ranging in age from 12 to 15, in one of Taft’s neighborhoods between 2005 and 2007.

Arrest and detention

Mr. Abdozzahra was arrested by Taft Criminal Investigations Police on September 29, 2007, after the report of a missing child. An individual had gone to the Taft Criminal Investigations Police that day and stated that his 12-year-old son had gone missing on his way to school and had not returned home. This person’s 13-year-old child had disappeared two years earlier while he had been playing in the neighborhood, and the police had found no trace of him. In the two-year period between these two brothers’ disappearances, two other boys aged 12 and 15 had also disappeared in that same neighborhood.

Police investigations revealed that the fourth child had last been seen on his way home from school, accompanied by his uncle (his mother’s sister’s husband), a man named Mr. Abdozzahra. Taft Criminal Investigations Police arrested and questioned Mr. Abdozzahra on that basis. Mr. Abdozzahra was interrogated an entire month at Taft Criminal Investigations Bureau during which he denied any connection to the matter. He was then turned over to Tehran Criminal Investigations Police. Within 24 hours of being interrogated at the Tehran Criminal Investigations Bureau, Mr. Abdozzahra admitted to having killed all four children, throwing their bodies into a well near the town of Taft, and covering them with dirt.

After confessing at the Tehran Criminal Investigations Bureau, he was returned to Taft Criminal Investigations, and with his directions, all four bodies were recovered in said well.

According to reports, during interrogations, Mr. Abdozzahra made conflicting statements regarding his motive for the murders. He had said: “I killed these children because of their inappropriate behavior,” (Yazd-e Farda, October 28, 2007), or that he “thought that these students were the devil and wanted to cleanse the Earth of their filthy presence” (Etemad, February 1, 2008). The Special Investigating Judge of the Yazd General and Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office declared, however, that he had stated his motive as being “sexual abuse of the children and taking revenge on the people around him” (Yazd-e Farda, October 31, 2007). Based on another report, he had stated that he had killed his brother-in-law’s child in March 2006, to take revenge for a disagreement he had had with him, and that he had subsequently decided to commit other crimes “in order to satisfy his inner shortcomings and complexes”. That was why he had chosen several young boys, and though he was arrested after the fourth murder, he intended to commit additional murders. The Medical Examiner determined, however, that he was mentally sound and not affected by any psychological issues (Etemad, February 1, 2008).

According to Taft’s General and Revolutionary Prosecutor, when Mr. Abdozzahra was arrested, everyone had said that he was a man of good morals, and the families of the missing had even gone to the officials in charge of the matter and asked that he be released.


At 9 AM on November 10, 2007, a panel of judges at Yazd Province Criminal Court comprised of the presiding judge and four member judges tried Mr. Abdozzahra in an extraordinary closed doors session. Based on available information, the Prosecutor’s representative, the victims’ families, and Mr. Abdozzahra’s court-appointed attorney were present at the trial. At the end of the session, Mr. Abdozzahra accepted the murder of the four children and asked their families for forgiveness.


The Court charged Mr. Abdozzahra with “sexual abuse and intentional murder”. He was accused of killing four boys, aged 12 to 15, on March 2, 2006, in September 2006, in April 4, 2007, and on September 29, 2007, by tying their hands behind their backs and strangling them after raping them, and then throwing their bodies in well in a garden in the vicinity of the town of Taft and covering them with dirt.

The validity of the criminal charges brought against this defendant cannot be ascertained in the absence of the basic guarantees of a fair trial.

Evidence of guilt

Mr. Abdozzahra’s statements in interrogations and the admission of those statements in court, as well as discovery of the bodies of the four murdered children in a well to which he had provided directions, were among the evidence used against him in court.

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.


Mr. Abdozzahra endured one month of interrogations at Taft Criminal Investigations Bureau but denied all the charges. However, he confessed to the murders when he was transferred to Tehran Criminal Investigations after one month, and was subjected to “specialized” interrogations.

Furthermore, based on available information, since four years had elapsed since the first murder and one month since the last one, the charge of “sexual abuse” was not incorporated in the Medical Examiner’s report due to the condition of the bodies.


The Court found Mr. Abdozzahra guilty and issued four death sentences (Qesas of life, “the taking of life as retribution”) for the murder of the four children, and one death sentence for their sexual abuse. Mr. Abdozzahra’s court-appointed attorney appealed the ruling and the case was referred to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court judges upheld the ruling. Based on available information, in order to expedite the death sentence, the families of the victims forgave the four Qesas sentences (owing to the fact that the formalities would have been more complicated and the process would have taken longer) so that the single sentence of death for rape could be implemented more quickly. Mr. Abdozzahra was executed in the morning of February 7, 2008.

In accordance with the sentence, Mr. Abdozzahra’s hanging was to be carried out in public. Pursuant to a general order by the then-Head of the Judiciary Branch prohibiting public executions except in special cases, however, the sentence was implemented in the presence of the next of kin, Mr. Abdozzahra’s attorney, and the judicial authorities.

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