In latest weeks, seven judges — Abulqasem Salavati, Mohammad Reza Amoozad, Hadi Mansoori, Musa Asef al-Hosseini, Ali Mazloum, Iman Afshari and Morteza Barati — seem to have issued between them at the very least 17 dying sentences, a few of which Iran’s excessive court docket has overturned on attraction. The names of judges issuing dying sentences in different circumstances stay unconfirmed.
These trials, which rights teams say are a part of a brutal marketing campaign designed to crush the rebellion, are “controlled by very few judges that collaborate a hundred percent with security agencies,” mentioned Hadi Ghaemi, government director of the Centre for Human Rights in Iran, a New York-based advocacy group. “They are trusted and loyal and they are believed to follow orders that have already been made extrajudicially about what the sentences should be.”
The protests, through which ladies and youths have performed a number one position, broke out mid-September following the dying of Mahsa Amini, 22, in police custody after she allegedly violated the nation’s conservative gown code for ladies. The demonstrations have since cascaded right into a broad rebellion pushed by calls to finish clerical rule. Safety forces have killed greater than 500 protesters and authorities have issued at the very least 22 dying sentences and charged greater than 100 individuals with crimes that would benefit the dying penalty, according to the activist news agency HRANA.
Detainees and their households are underneath heavy stress to remain silent, making it unimaginable to tally the variety of arrests and sentences, however HRANA estimates that there have been practically 20,000 arrests, and a few 700 have been sentenced.
On the middle of lots of the most severe trials is a clique of judges whose identities have grow to be recognized to, and feared by, the general public.
The US has vowed to accentuate sanctions on these concerned within the lethal repression. The US placed Salavati, nicknamed “the judge of death,” underneath sanctions in 2019 for overseeing “the Iranian regime’s miscarriage of justice in show trials.” Six different judges liable for issuing dying sentences are not under U.S. sanctions, which might entail tightened journey bans and frozen property. In late December, the Biden administration added Iran’s common prosecutor, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, to its blacklist for human rights abuses.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Treasury, talking on the situation of anonymity underneath departmental protocol, mentioned they may not provide touch upon whether or not sanctions concentrating on these judges had been or had been thought of. Afshari, Mazloum and Amoozad had been positioned underneath sanctions by the UK on Dec. 9 for “prosecuting protesters with egregious sentences including the death penalty.”
A majority of protesters jailed are launched on bail and pending trial. However an unknown quantity stand accused of nationwide security-related crimes, reminiscent of alleged assaults on safety forces, in a system stacked against them. Slightly than dealing with trial in a legal court docket, political prisoners are tried in the Revolutionary Court, a parallel judicial system arrange after the 1979 revolution to guard Iran’s system of clerical rule.
These judges “strongly believe in and depend on the ruling Islamic establishment and for this reason have absolute or blind obedience,” Iranian lawyer Saeid Dehgan, who lives in Canada, mentioned in an e-mail. Dehgan fled Iran to flee persecution for attempting to defend purchasers earlier than a few of these judges.
Within the Revolutionary Court docket, defendants are sometimes denied entry to their lawyer and can’t evaluation the proof in opposition to them, mentioned Dehgan. They’re steadily pressured to make false or incriminating statements underneath torture or excessive duress, based on Ghaemi and different rights teams, whereas judges usually depend on fabricated or deceptive proof to subject heavy sentences in speedy trials.
Members of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and the intelligence wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a safety drive with wide-ranging powers designed to defend the Islamic Republic, conduct interrogations. Within the courtroom, interrogators sometimes information sentencing slightly than judges, mentioned Dehgan.
Rulings are sometimes “written by the legal department of the intelligence and security agencies,” he mentioned.
Detainees or their legal professionals don’t typically obtain official copies of the verdicts. Typically the presiding decide’s identify is stored personal “because they know how much their decisions increase public anger,” mentioned Dehgan. He mentioned colleagues concerned in latest dying penalty circumstances within the northern metropolis of Sari shared verdicts with him, however the decide’s identify had been deleted, “probably for security reasons.”
The judges of branches 15, 26, 28 and 29 of the Revolutionary Court docket in Tehran — Salavati, Afshari, Amoozad and Mazloum — have been among the many most infamous for lengthy and harsh sentences amid the protests, mentioned Shiva Nazarahari, a member of the Volunteer Committee to Comply with Up on the Scenario of Detainees, an activist group primarily based outdoors Iran.
Salavati and Amoozad presided over the trial of the primary participant within the ongoing protests to be executed, Mohsen Shekari, a 23-year-old barista from Tehran.
Salavati has sentenced at the very least three different protesters to dying, together with a 19-year-old whose mom mentioned he suffered from bipolar dysfunction. Iran’s excessive court docket accepted appeals for the 2 different confirmed circumstances, although the defendants stay jailed. The outcomes of three different dying penalty circumstances tried in his court docket stay unclear, according to news reports and a list by the detainees’ committee.
Amoozad has issued dying sentences to Manouchehr Mehman-Navaz, 45, and author and artist Mehdi Bahman, Dehgan mentioned.
On Dec. 12, authorities hanged Majid Reza Rahnavard, a 23-year-old shopkeeper sentenced to dying by Mansoori based on protection of the trial by Mizan Information Company, which is affiliated with Iran’s judiciary. On Jan. 7, Tehran executed two protesters, Mohammad Mehdi Karami, 22, and Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini, 39, after they had been discovered responsible by al-Hosseini.
Karimi and Hosseini had been amongst 5 individuals al-Hosseini sentenced to dying in a mass trial, which included three minors, charged with killing a member of the IRGC volunteer police drive, based on Mizan. The excessive court docket suspended the opposite three sentences on attraction.
Barati has sentenced three individuals to dying by hanging, based on Dehgan and native media experiences: Saeid Yaghoubi, Majid Kazemi and Saleh Mirhashemi, accused of killing safety drive members.
Each Mazloum and Afshari have every issued one dying sentence, based on HRANA, although the excessive court docket has accepted repeals in every case, the Committee to Comply with Up on the Scenario of Detainees discovered.
Verdicts “don’t fit the crime, if one was even committed,” mentioned Nazarahari. As a substitute, these judges “listen to orders from high or what interrogators say. They don’t issue their verdicts according to any law.”