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Ahmad Reza Jalali, Iranian Scientist Residing in Sweden, Sentenced to Death in an Unfair Trial

Ahmad Reza Jalali, Iranian Scientist Residing in Sweden, Sentenced to Death in an Unfair Trial

(October 26, 2017) Ahmad Reza Jalali, an Iranian scientist residing in Sweden, has been sentenced to death by the Iranian judiciary. In an interview with IHRDC, his wife, Vida Mehrannia, indicated that Jalali had not received a fair judicial process, and that his attorney was only allowed to speak for two minutes during his trial.

She added that when her husband had been on hunger strike, the authorities had told him that he would get the death penalty anyway. The judiciary has not given Jalali’s attorney a copy of the court opinion; instead, as it has been customary in similar cases, it only allowed his attorney to briefly review the text of the opinion. Jalali’s attorney will appeal the decision.

Jalali was arrested in April 2016 on the charge of cooperating with a hostile foreign state. According to his wife, this charge stemmed from false allegations of ties with Israel.

On October 24, 2017 Tehran Prosecutor Abbas Ja’fari Dolatabadi stated that a Mossad agent has been sentenced to death. The Tehran Prosecutor added that this agent had supplied information regarding 30 prominent Iranian scientists and officials to Mossad. According to Ja’fari Dolatabadi this list included assassinated scientists involved in Iran’s nuclear program.

Ja’fari Dolatabadi did not mention Jalali’s name, but it was apparent that his remarks were in reference to Jalali, as Ja’fari Dolatabadi mentioned that the Mossad agent had provided this information in exchange for money and residency in Sweden.

The charges of cooperating with a hostile foreign state and espionage do not carry the death penalty under Iran’s Islamic Penal Code. Jalali’s death penalty seems to be based on the charge of “spreading corruption on earth.” Article 286 of the Islamic Penal Code provides:

Any person, who extensively commits felony against the bodily entity of people, offenses against internal or international security of the state, spreading lies, disruption of the economic system of the state, arson and destruction of properties, distribution of poisonous and bacterial and dangerous materials, and establishment of, or aiding and abetting in, places of corruption and prostitution, [on a scale] that causes severe disruption in the public order of the state and insecurity, or causes harsh damage to the bodily entity of people or public or private properties, or causes distribution of corruption and prostitution on a large scale, shall be considered as mofsed-e-fel-arz [corrupt on earth] and shall be sentenced to death.

Note- When, considering all the evidence and circumstances, the court does not establish the intention to cause extensive disruption in the public order, or creating insecurity, or causing vast damage or spreading corruption and prostitution in a large scale, or the knowledge of effectiveness of the acts committed, provided that the offense committed is not punishable under the title of a different offense, it shall sentence the offender to a ta’zir imprisonment of the fifth or sixth degree, considering the harmful consequences of the offense.

As it is plainly clear from the text of the applicable provision of the criminal statute, even assuming the allegations against Jalali are true, the Iranian judiciary must establish that a “severe disruption in the public order” has taken place, and that the defendant must had intended to cause such disruption. There is no indication that these elements have been established in accordance with the applicable law.

As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Iran is obligated to ensure that a defendant receives a fair and public trial and is not subjected to torture. Jalali’s trial has not been either fair or transparent. Furthermore, Jalali has indicated that he has been subjected to psychological torture. For instance, he has stated that his interrogators threatened him that his young children could be detained.

The Iranian judiciary must ensure that Jalali receives a fair trial in which he is afforded the chance to defend himself against the evidence that the government is presenting. 

 

 

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