International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
Iranian League for Defence of Human Rights (LDDHI)
JOINT PRESS RELEASE
Iran: Trial on abuses carried out in the Kahrizak Dentention Centre
Conviction of police officers; impunity for higher officials
5 July 2010 - On 30 June 2010, the Judicial Organisation of the Iranian Armed Forces announced the end of the court proceedings against the 12 defendants charged with crimes that were perpetrated against political prisoners in the Kahrizak Detention Centre in Tehran, where a large number of protesters were detained following the June 2009 presidential elections. Several of the prisoners died as a result of gross human rights violations that were carried out by prison officials, including beatings, torture, rape and other abuses
Out of the 12 defendants, two were sentenced to death for the “intentional beating leading to the deaths of the late Amir Javadifar, Mohsen Ruholamini and Mohammad Kamrani.” Nine others were sentenced to imprisonment and flogging, are being required to pay cash fines and financial compensation (blood money) and are being temporarily suspended from duty. One defendant was acquitted. The court's president in an earlier statement declared that: “One of the defendants is a civilian and 11 others are police force personnel.”
The court failed to release the names the defendants or their positions and ranks, details of the proceedings and the case, nor did it make any reference to higher-ranking officials who had issued the orders resulting in the ill-treatment of the detainees. Furthermore, the court only addressed three of the deaths that occurred at the detention centre. Despite the fact that there have been a number of still unconfirmed reports of other deaths at the Kahrizak Detention Centre. Indeed, at least two other detainees, Ramin Aqazadeh- Qahremani and Abbas Nejati-Kargar, died as a result of torture soon after being released from the detention centre.
Additionally, Ramin Pourandarjani, a young doctor who was serving at the detention centre and had visited and treated some of the detainees, including Mohsen Ruholamini, died under suspicious circumstances on 10 November 2009, a few days after testifying before the Special Parliamentary Committee (SPC) which was assigned to investigate the deaths and other abuses at the detention centre. Gen. Ahmadi Moqaddam, Commander of the Law Enforcement Force (LEF), initially claimed that the doctor had committed suicide. Later reports alleged that he had died of poisoning. A policeman who was one of the first to see Dr. Pourandarjani’s body reported bruises and blood-spots in his neck area. More recent reports revealed that Dr. Pourandarjani had told the SPC that the he had been threatened by Kahrizak Detention Centre officials who told him that he would cease to live if he revealed the reasons for the victims' injuries.
In its report, the Special Parliamentary Committee specifically accused Saeed Mortezavi, who was the Prosecutor General of Tehran at the time of the crimes, as being the judicial authority responsible for ordering the detainees to be sent to Kahrizak Detention Centre despite the fact that there was sufficient space in Evin Prison in Tehran.
According to other reports, Judges Ali Akbar Haydarifar [or Haydarifard] and Hassan Haddad have been instrumental in issuing detention orders to consign detainees to Kahrizak Detention Centre. Haddad is said to have been personally involved in occasionally beating the prisoners. The judicial officials' involvement was further underlined when the then commander of the Greater Tehran LEF, Gen. Azizollah Rajabzadeh, stated that: “Not a single detainee arrived in or left Kahrizak Detention Centre without a judicial order.” However, he also alleged at the time that there has been no known deaths at the detention centre.
During the Special Parliamentary Committee’s investigations, Saeed Mortezavi told MPS that the victims had died of meningitis and measures were being taken to immunise other inmates. This statement was repeated on several occasions by both Mortezavi and Gen. Moqaddam who, furthermore, described the reports about the abuses in the Kahrizak Detention Centre as being “lies”.
One pro-government MP, Mr. Katouzian, who was involved in the investigations, considers Gen. Moqaddam as directly responsible for the events in Kahrizak Detention Centre. Gen. Ahmad-Reza Radan, deputy commander of the LEF, was named by some victims as the police official directly in charge of Kahrizak Detention Centre who personally took part in beatings and ill treatment of detainees. Further reports attributed to several MPs indicated that one ardently pro-government MP, Hossein Fadaie, had also been among the officials in charge of Kahrizak Detention Centre.
The Kahrizak Detention Centre was closed down in August 2009 after reports that torture and killings were being carried out in the centre, more particularly after attention was drawn to it because one of the murder victims was the son of a high-ranking advisor to Mr. Mohsen Rezaie, a pro-Ayatollah Khamanei presidential candidate. Subsequently, trials for about 100 detainees were held in August and September 2009 as well as in January and February 2010, in which prisoners were shown in prison pajamas watching other detainees, who had clearly been coerced into incriminating themselves apologising for their actions, ‘confessing’ to being part of a ‘velvet revolution’, and asking the Supreme Leader for forgiveness.
In spite of the closure of the Kahrizak Detention Centre, torture and other ill treatment of detainees to extract false ‘confessions’, which courts invoke to sentence prisoners, or to force the detainees to recant their beliefs, intensified throughout the country. More recently, on 10 June, 2010, the vice-president of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC), Ms. Narges Mohammadi was arrested late at night in front of her three-year-old twins despite the fact that the arresting agents did not produce an arrest warrant. She spent three weeks in detention and was released on bail on 1 July. Having lost at least 8 kilos, she was immediately hospitalised for partial paralysis including loss of speech. Another member of the DHRC, the journalist Abdolreza Tajik, was detained on 12 June for the third time since the June 2009 Presidential Election and has been held incommunicado ever since. It is feared that he is under strong pressure to make false ‘confessions’ and recant his actions and beliefs.
Despite the secrecy surrounding the cases of killings and other abuses in the Kahrizak Detention Centre, the above information points an accusing finger at other higher level judicial and police officials, who have clearly tried to cover up the abuses and are not facing any proceedings. This is in stark contradiction to the Islamic Penal Code that stipulates that in the event of the death of a defendant or a convict as a result of ill treatment, the person who has issued the orders and the direct culprit shall both be prosecuted (Articles 578-579 ). It also blatantly violates Iran's international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Iran ratified in 1975.
The International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) and the Iranian League for Defence of Human Rights (LDDHI) consider these proceedings as a travesty of justice, because the authorities limited the investigation and proceedings to lower level police officers to cover for and grant impunity to higher judicial and police officials. In this regard, FIDH and LDDHI:
Express support for the Mourning Mothers', a group of women who lost their children during the protests, call for justice and an independent inquiry.
Call on the Iranian authorities to put an end to the torture and ill treatment of prisoners and detainees, to grant them immediate and regular access to their families and the lawyers of their choice and to abide by the UN Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment ;
Call on the Iranian authorities to publish the names and positions of the defendants and the details of the recent proceedings and to repeal the death sentence against the two defendants who were sentenced to death;
Call on the Iranian authorities to end the practice of granting impunity to violators of human rights and initiate investigations regarding the involvement of all other officials in the abuses, including, but not limited to, Judge Saeed Mortezavi, Judge Hassan Haddad, Judge Ali Akbar Haydarifard, MP Hossein Fadaie, as well as Generals Esma’il Ahmadi Moqaddam, Ahmad-Reza Radan and Azizollah Rajabzadeh, and to bring to justice without recourse to the death penalty all those who ordered or perpetrated abuses against detainees;
Urge the Iranian authorities to initiate proceedings against Saeed Mortezavi, who has been involved in previous human rights violations including the death in 2003 of Ms. Zahra Kazemi, the Iranian-Canadian photojournalist.
FIDH and LDDHI renew their urgent call on the international community to adopt effective mechanisms to monitor and investigate the ever-worsening state of human rights in Iran.
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