Faraj Sarkouhi: Medical concern / Legal concern / Fear of death penalty
Amnesty International Index: MDE 13/38/97
4 September 1997
Amnesty International fears that Faraj Sarkouhi may be about to face an unfair trial at which he could be convicted on charges possibly solely relating to his non-violent political activities and sentenced to death. There is also considerable concern for his health after seven months in detention.
Faraj Sarkouhi is reported to have been allowed to receive a family visit for the first time since his detention in February 1997. Eight members of his family, including his mother, were reported to have visited him on 31 August in a prison in Shiraz, central Iran. The family members were reportedly separated from Faraj Sarkouhi by a glass pane and allowed to have a conversation with him for less than 10 minutes.
However, it appears that Faraj Sarkouhi has still not had any legal assistance. This, coupled with Amnesty International's concerns about the fairness of trials in Iran, raises the organization's fears that Faraj Sarkouhi may not receive a fair trial.
The prisoner is said to be in poor physical condition. Amnesty International is concerned that he may not have received adequate medical attention.
Despite the reported charges against him (see below), Amnesty International believes that Faraj Sarkouhi may be a prisoner of conscience, held for non-violent activities.
According to reports, Faraj Sarkouhi, without legal representation, was charged on 23 June 1997, amongst other things, with "spying for a foreign country and attempting to illegally leave the country". Earlier, at the end of May, when there were reports that his trial was due to start imminently, Amnesty International sought to send a delegate to observe the trial proceedings. However, the organization was informed by the Foreign Ministry that `it was not an appropriate time' for an Amnesty International delegation to visit Iran, but assurances were given that the trial was almost certain to be held in public. Subsequent reported statements by the Head of the Judiciary that the trial may be held in camera at the discretion of the judge have raised fears that the authorities may be trying to conceal the details of the proceedings.
Amnesty International has called on the Iranian authorities to provide full details of the charges against Faraj Sarkouhi and the evidence against him, and to allow the court proceedings to be scrutinized by independent bodies. The authorities should also ensure that his trial meets the minimum standards for fair trial laid down in Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party. This case has already been the subject of UA 269/96 (MDE 13/36/96, 20 November 1996) and follow-ups (MDE 13/40/96, 23 December 1996; MDE 13/08/97, 31 January 1997; MDE 13/09/97, 6 February; MDE 13/10/97, 10 February; MDE 13/16/97, 15 April). However, the UA Network is once again being asked to take action in view of Amnesty International's renewed fears about Faraj Sarkouhi's situation.
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