Within the Revolutionary Courts, three judges – Abolghasem Salavati, Mohammad Moghiseh and Pir-Abbasi – stand out for their role in presiding over joint and individual trials involving hundreds of defendants.
Although some of these trials were held in public, the three judges remain shadowy figures. It is unclear what their legal backgrounds are, or how they came to be appointed. There are no pictures of Moghiseh or Pir-Abbasi, and they do not appear at public events. Pir-Abbasi’s first name is not even known.
A human rights lawyer in Tehran, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, “What they have in common is that they impose sentences that do not correspond with the crime committed; they ignore the defence case put by defendants and their lawyers; they approve indictments that have no legal basis; they are unfamiliar with the law and legal matters; and they undeniably come out with erroneous rulings.”
Salavati is somewhat better known than his two colleagues. Millions of people remember his face from televised trials where he sat in judgement over hundreds of defendants.
At least 12 death sentences are believed to have been passed against alleged participants in the protests that followed the June 2009 re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president, and Salavati was responsible for half of these, winning him the grim nickname “Judge of Death”.