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

Omid Rostami

About

Age: 22
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Single

Case

Date of Killing: November 14, 2018
Location of Killing: Raja’i Shahr (Gohardasht) Prison, Karaj, Alborz Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Murder
Age at time of offense: 16

About this Case

committed murder when he was a teenager and was executed in violation of due process standards and international law.

Information about the execution of Mr. Omid Rostami, son of Arezoo and Mohammad, along with nine people* was obtained through Abdorrahman Boroumand Center’s interview with one of Mr. Rostami’s relatives on December 10, 2018 (ABC interview). The news of this execution was published on Human Rights Activists News Agency’s website (HRANA) on November 18, 2018 and the website of Iran Human Rights on December 3, 2018.

Mr. Rostami was born on July 10, 1996 to a poor family in the city of Robat Karim, Robat Karim County, Tehran Province. He was the only child of the family, and since his parents got divorced in 2002, he lived with his mother and grandmother in the city of Golestan, Baharestan County, in Tehran Province. Mr. Rostami quit school in his third year of middle school and started building aluminum doors and window frames. He was interested in sports like Taekwondo and swimming, and like many teenagers, he loved driving cars and riding motorcycles (ABC interview).

In September/October 2011, when he was just 15 years old, Mr. Rostami was arrested as part of a plan to combat thugs, intruders, and violent criminals, and faced two charges of assault and robbery at the Criminal Investigations (judiciary police) Office. After about four months of detention, he was released on bail in January/February 2011 (ABC interview).

Mr. Rostami’s case was related to the killing of an individual on 2012 in the city of Eslamshahr.

Mr. Rostami was interested in sports like Taekwondo and swimming, and like many teenagers, he loved driving cars and riding motorcycles.

On July 12, 2012, one of Mr. Rostami’s friends had become engaged in a fight with another person. Mr. Rostami intervened in order to try to stop the fight, and the person sprayed pepper spray on Mr. Rostami’s face and eyes. Blinded by the spray, Mr. Rostami stabbed the person with a knife belonging to his friend in order to keep him away. The knife cut the person’s throat, causing his death. Mr. Rostami was 16 years old at the time of the incident (ABC interview).

International laws have strictly prohibited capital punishment for those who were under the age of 18 at the time of committing a crime. As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Iran has the obligation not to impose capital punishment for an offence committed before the age of eighteen.

Arrest and detention

On September 12, 2012, agents of the judiciary police arrested Mr. Rostami in the city of Ardakan in Yazd province (ABC interview).

According to the available information, Mr. Rostami fled after the incident and lived secretly in a number of cities such as Qom, Hamedan, and Mashhad for about two months. One of his friends, who was also involved in the fight and had fled to the city of Ardakan, then suggested that Mr. Rostami also move to Ardakan. His friend was in touch with the victim’s family and the police, and informed the police. Mr. Rostami was therefore arrested immediately after arriving in the city of Ardakan (ABC interview).

During the interrogations and the preliminary investigations, Mr. Rostami was denied access to a lawyer.

Mr. Rostami was interrogated for 22 days at the Criminal Investigations Office in the city of Rabat Karim and then transferred to the Youth Detention Center in Tehran and held there until he reached the age of 18. After that, he was transferred to Raja’i Shahr (Gohardasht) Prison and held in hall 18, section 6, until the execution was implemented (ABC interview and HRANA).

During the interrogations and the preliminary investigations, Mr. Rostami was denied access to a lawyer, but he was allowed to visit his family. After the preliminary investigations were completed, an attorney was appointed by court to represent Mr. Rostami, but the attorney resigned after the verdict was issued. Due to the financial hardship, Mr. Rostami’s family could not hire an attorney for him. Mr. Rostami’s last visit with his mother was on November 13, 2018 (ABC interview).

Mr. Rostami’s parents were not allowed to be present at the hearings.

Trial

Branch 71 of the Criminal Court in Tehran Province tried Mr. Rostami in three or four sessions. Mr. Rostami’s parents were not allowed to be present at the hearings (ABC interview).

The last session of the court was held on September 4, 2018 in order to obtain the victim’s family’s forgiveness (ABC interview).

No information is available on Mr. Rostami’s other trial sessions.

Charges

The charge brought against Mr. Rostami was “murder.” Mr. Rostami was accused of killing a person with a knife during a fight that occurred on July 12, 2012 (ABC interview and Iran Human Rights).

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

Records of two robberies committed by Mr. Rostami were considered by the court as evidence for his mental development.

Evidence of guilt

Mr. Rostami’s confessions were used as evidence against him.

Defense

Records of two robberies committed by Mr. Rostami were considered by the court as evidence for his mental development. Although Mr. Rostami was 16 years old at the time those crimes were committed, the mitigations provided for in Article 91 of the Islamic Penal Code** did not apply to him. During preliminary investigations, Mr. Rostami was not able to defend himself properly due to his young age, and the investigations and interrogations were conducted without the presence of an attorney. His court-appointed attorney did not defend him effectively because Mr. Rostami confessed during the interrogations (ABC interview and Iran Human Rights).

No detailed information is available on Mr. Rostami’s defense.

During preliminary investigations, Mr. Rostami was not able to defend himself properly due to his young age, and the investigations and interrogations were conducted without the presence of an attorney.

A Summary of the Legal Defects in the Adjudication of Mr. Omid Rostami’s Case

According to a Boroumand Center interview with a person close to Mr. Omid Rostami, his two prior convictions for theft were used against him in court as proof of his mental development and maturity, and even though Mr. Rostami was 16 years old at the time of the commission of the crime, Islamic Penal Code Article 91’s sentence reduction provisions were not applied in his case. In all probability, the judicial authorities were of the opinion that if he had previously committed theft, then he was mentally developed and mature and was fully aware of the nature of his actions, whereas a determination of mental development and maturity is a psychological question [best addressed by psychologists and psychiatrist], and judges cannot determine whether a defendant has reached said maturity since they have no expertise in that area. That is precisely why the Note to Islamic Penal Code Article 91 provides: “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 according to this Article, recourse to expert opinion is at the discretion of the judge, however, it is not logical or reasonable for a judicial authority to enter the realms of medicine and psychology. It seems, therefore, that the judges hearing Omid Rosatmi’s case issued a sentence of death without ascertaining his mental development and maturity.

Another issue that needs to be addressed in this case is the absence of a defense attorney in the preliminary investigations phase. According to an interpretation of the law and the jurisprudence based on the Law on the Rules of Criminal Procedure for General and Revolutionary Courts in force at the time of the preliminary investigations into Omid Rostami’s case, the presence of an attorney was mandatory at trial for crimes for which the law has mandated the punishments of Qesas of life (death penalty). Given the defendant’s youth and the fact that the law provided for the possibility of designating a court-appointed attorney in the preliminary investigations phase, it was necessary that such court-appointed attorney be designated for the defendant. Without a doubt, the absence of an attorney in the preliminary investigations phase adversely affected Omid Rostami and changed the course of the case.

Judgment

Branch 71 of the Criminal Court in Tehran Province sentenced Mr. Omid Rostami to the death penalty in the framework of qesas. The verdict was upheld by Branch 40 of the Supreme Court.

On November 14, 2018, Mr. Omid Rostami was hanged along with nine other people at Raja’i Shahr (Gohardasht) Prison in the city of Karaj.

Prior to the execution, Mr. Rostami had been taken to the gallows on four occasions, but the slain party’s family refused to carry out the sentence each time, claiming that they felt unsafe due to the presence of Mr. Rostami’s relatives at the place of execution.

All the efforts made by Mr. Rostami’s family to obtain forgiveness from the family of the slain party or payment of the amount of vajholmosaleheh were unsuccessful.

All the efforts made by Mr. Rostami’s family to obtain forgiveness from the family of the slain party or payment of the amount of vajholmosaleheh were unsuccessful. Despite the fact that the requested amount of vajholmosaleheh had been made ready, the victim’s family refused to accept it and the qesas sentence was carried out (ABC interview).

Mr. Rostami’s body was delivered to his family a few hours after the execution and buried in the Baharestan County cemetery.

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*   Mr. Reza Vaez Tehrani, Mr. Hassan Moghanlou, Mr. Ali Iranshahi, Mr. Ali Amindokht, Mr. Sam Sagvand, Mr. Saman Yamini, Mr. Vahid Mazlumin, Mr. Mohammad Esmaeil Qasemi, and Mr. Omid Souleh Khori were among the people who were executed along with Mr. Rostami.
** Article 91 of the Islamic Penal Code: “Article 91- In the cases of offenses punishable by hadd or qesas, if mature people under eighteen years do not realize the nature of the crime committed or its prohibition, or if there is uncertainty about their full mental development, according to their age, they shall be sentenced to the punishments prescribed in this chapter.
Note- The court may ask the opinion of forensic medicine or resort to any other method that it sees appropriate in order to establish full mental development”.

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