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

Esma'il Mohammadi

About

Age: 40
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Non-Believer
Civil Status: Married

Case

Date of Killing: September 4, 2005
Location of Killing: Orumieh Prison, Orumieh, Azarbaijan-e Gharbi Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: War on God; Attempt to assassinate or assassination of state dignitaries
Age at time of alleged offense: 35

About this Case

News of the execution of Mr. Esma'il Mohammadi and another individual was published by the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan. Additional information about this case was obtained through an Abdorrahman Boroumand Center interview with Mr. Mohammadi’s spouse (Boroumand Center interview), the Secretary of the Human Rights Commission of Kurdistan’s conversation with Radio Farda (September 6, 2005), and Amnesty International press releases (August 8, 2003, August 24, 2004, September 7, 2005).

Mr. Mohammadi was an ethnic Kurd from the Town of Saqqez’ village of Tikantappeh, married, residing in the town of Bukan, and had 5 children from two marriages. He was a communist and held no religious beliefs. (Boroumand Center interview).

In 1981, Mr. Mohammadi became a member of the Komeleh Party of Iranian Kurdistan and went to Iraqi Kurdistan. A year later, in 1982, he returned to Iran as a “surrendering member” but continued to work with Komeleh’s secret organization in Bukan. In the year 2000, Mr. Mohammadi went to Iraqi Kurdistan once again with his family, and joined the Komeleh Party’s headquarters in Iraqi Kurdistan. (Boroumand Center interview).

Several remaining members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran established the Revolutionary Organization of this party in Iraq in the mid 1960s. Esma’il Sharifzadeh, Abdollah Mo’ini, and Molaavareh were among the leaders of this organization who, inspired by the Cuban Revolution, began an armed guerrilla struggle in Kurdistan. When this group was defeated in 1969 and several of its members were arrested, armed struggle was criticized and the Maoist trend overcomes. When some of its leaders were released in 1978, the Revolutionary Organization of Working People in Kurdistan – Komala was established. Based on Marxist theory, Komala was against the capitalists and landlords and encouraged workers and peasants in Kurdistan to an armed uprising against them and the central government. This organization considered the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran (PDKI) as the rich party and campaigned against it, resulting in several armed conflicts and hundreds dead. In 1982, Komala joined another Marxist group, Sahand, which was basically a theoretical group, and established the Communist Party of Iran. Then it became called the Kurdistan Organization of the Communist Party of Iran – Komala. Years later, this organization separated from the Communist Party of Iran and faced several schisms. The Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan, led by Abdollah Mohtadi, Komala, and the Kurdistan Organization of the Communist Party of Iran led by Ebrahim Alizadeh are some of these factions.  

Arrest and detention

Based on available information, in May 2002, [the town of] Piranshahr Information Administration agents arrested Mr. Mohammadi at his friend’s home in Bukan and took him to Piranshahr Information Administration offices. Mr. Mohammadi had gone to Iran on a mission for the Party. He was held for five months in Information Administration detention centers in Piranshahr, Mahabad, and Bukan, without access to an attorney, and according to his family, had been subjected to physical and psychological torture during that period which resulted in a broken hand and a broken nose as a result of being struck and beaten with a rifle stock.

Mr. Mohammadi was deprived of the right to contact and visit with his family during his detention at the Information Administration detention centers, and his family had no knowledge of where he was being held. He was able to contact and visit with his father’s family after he was transferred to [the city of] Orumieh Prison, but his wife and children could not visit with him as they were at Komeleh headquarters in Iraqi Kurdistan. (Boroumand Center interview). After Mr. Mohammadi’s sentence was confirmed, his wife secretly traveled to Iran only once, and was able to meet him for 30 minutes in person at Orumieh Prison, using her sister’s birth certificate. He was brought to visitations with his family in shackles. (Boroumand Center interview).

Mr. Mohammadi spent 5 years in prison.

Trial

Orumieh Revolutionary Court Branch one tried Mr. Mohammadi. According to his wife, he was tried 3 times and had an attorney but there is no information about whether his attorney was present at trial.

Charges

According to the Amnesty International press release, Mr. Esma'il Mohammadi’s charges were “armed struggle against the Islamic regime, Moharebeh (“waging war against God”), Efsad fel-Arz (“spreading corruption on Earth”), membership in Komeleh, illegal passage through the border, and participation in the kidnapping, torture, and killing of at least one government employee.” According to Mr. Mohammadi’s family, he was accused by the court to have acted in assassinating a former member of Komeleh who was cooperating with the Islamic Republic, and had assassinated his brother. (Boroumand Center interview).

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

There is no detailed information regarding the evidence presented against Mr. Mohammadi in court. According to Mr. Mohammadi’s spouse, the plaintiff’s family, a Komeleh member in Piranshahr, and several people from Bukan, were among people who had come to court to testify against Mr. Mohammadi. (Boroumand Center interview). According to Amnesty International, the evidence presented against him consisted of “his own confessions, and the discovery of weapons and hand grenades in a search of his house”.

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

There is no information available regarding Mr. Mohammadi’s defense. According to his spouse, he did not accept the charge of assassination and had not confessed. (Boroumand Center interview).

A Summary of the Legal Defects in the Adjudication of Mr. Esma'il Mohammadi’s Case

According to available information, Mr. Mohammadi was subjected to physical and psychological torture in the course of interrogations, whereas, pursuant to Iranian law, torturing and putting a defendant under duress is illegal and considered to be a crime. Furthermore, confessions obtained in this manner are without legal credence. Principle 38 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran as well as other Iranian laws expressly state that a confession made under duress has no validity whatsoever, and go so far as to even consider the extraction of an admission through torture to be a crime and those who commit such an act, criminals. Pursuant to Article 578 of the Islamic Penal Code, (Section on Ta’zirat Punishments), “any government employee, or judicial or non-judicial official, who subjects a defendant to physical harm and torture in order to force said defendant to give a confession or make an admission, shall be sentenced to payment of Qesas (“retribution”) or payment of Diah (“blood money”), as the case may require, in addition to six months to three years’ imprisonment; in the event that there exists an individual who has issued the order to carry out [said physical torture], only that person shall be subjected to said imprisonment sentence; if the defendant dies as a result of the harm and torture, the perpetrator shall incur the punishment [designated] for a murderer, and the issuer of the order the punishment for murder”. Additionally, admissions and confessions are legally valid only when made freely by the person making the admissions, and made before the trial judge issuing a ruling in the case. The Law on General and Revolutionary Courts Rules of Criminal Procedure, Note to Article 59, provides: “In cases where a defendant’s confession, or a witness’ testimony, or a testimony regarding a witness’ testimony constitutes the basis of the court’s ruling, the judge issuing a ruling in the case must hear such confession and/or testimony first hand.” Considering the fact that Mr. Mohammadi was tortured during interrogations in order to extract a confession, it was necessary for the court to conduct investigations into torture. If it could be determined that no torture had taken place, and that the defendant confessed before the judge, then there would be a possibility to consider that confession [as the basis for the issuance of a ruling]. It appears, however, that these processes were not respected and followed.

Another issue that must be noted in this case is Mr. Mohammadi’s lack of access to an attorney during interrogations. Pursuant to the Law on General and Revolutionary Courts Rules of Criminal Procedure, Note to Article 186, in crimes the punishment for which is death, the court must appoint an attorney for the defendant if the latter does not have an attorney. Although having access to an attorney is mandatory at trial, given the fact, however, that said Note does not specify [at what stage the right to an attorney attaches and whether it is only specific to] trial, it can be deduced that the presence of an attorney is also mandatory during the preliminary investigations phase.

Judgment

In July 2004, Orumieh Islamic Revolutionary Court, Branch One, sentenced Mr. Esma'il Mohammadi to death. The sentence was upheld by Supreme Court Branch 32 in August 2004. (Amnesty International).

At 7 o’clock in the morning of September 4, 2005, Mr. Mohammadi and another individual were hanged in Orumieh Prison’s central courtyard. The authorities had not informed Mr. Esma'il Mohammadi’s family of the implementation of the death sentence, and the family only found out about it when they had gone to the prison for visitation. (Boroumand Center interview).

According to Mr. Mohammadi’s spouse, the authorities turned his body over to his family after having gotten some pastries from them. In keeping with his will, Mr. Mohammadi was buried in the village of Tikantappeh. Mr. Mohammadi’s family was not allowed to hold services for him at a mosque and they were therefore forced to hold services at home. (Boroumand Center interview).

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