Death sentences condemned
New York, September 14, 1999 (Human Rights Watch) -- The head of Tehran's
revolutionary Court has announced that four as yet unnamed people have
been sentenced to death in relation to student demonstrations there last
Human Rights Watch today called for the retrial of the four in a public
court and with full access to the procedural safeguards set out in international
law. It said trials before the Revolutionary Courts do not conform with
international standards for fair trial.
The head of Tehran's Revolutionary Court stated on September 11 that
four unnamed individuals had been sentenced to death in connection with
pro-democracy protests by Tehran University students in July. In an interview
with the conservative daily newspaper Jomhouri-Eslami, Hojatoleslam Gholamhossein
Rahbarpour said two of the sentences had been confirmed by the Supreme
He also held out the possibility of further death sentences among the
"thousand arrested" during the protests.
"There are other dossiers with heavy punishments under investigation,"
he said. Speaking about another case involving several members of the
Jewish community arrested on charges of spying for Israel, Judge Rahbarpour
said that "the courts had evidence that proved their guilt."
"The real motive in sentencing these four people to death is apparently
to punish them for exercising their rights, to set an example and intimidate
Iranian students as they return to classes," said Hanny Megally, the
executive director of the Middle East and North Africa Division.
In addition he noted that procedures in the Revolutionary Courts fall
far short of international standards for a fair trial with defendants being
denied access to legal counsel and held indefinitely incommunicado in pre-trial
Human Rights Watch said that the evidentiary basis for the detention
of those arrested following demonstrations in Tehran and Tabriz, and for
the detention of the thirteen Iranian Jews held since March 1999, has never
been made public.
"We are very concerned that the thirteen members of the Jewish
minority may have been singled out for persecution as a gambit in what
is thought to be a struggle within Iran's leadership," said Megally.
Human Rights Watch called for the judicial authorities to immediately
release those against whom no evidence of involvement in criminal activities
Others, against whom there is evidence of criminal conduct, should be
given fair, public trials with full access to the procedural safeguards
required in international law. This should include the right to communicate
with legal counsel of their own choice.
Human Rights Watch requested permission to send international observers
to attend any forthcoming trials in connection with the above cases.