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Ctrl+Alt+Delete: Iran's Response to the Internet

When we entered the court, we noticed that in addition to the Prosecutor’s representative, Moqaddas (who was Mortazavi’s deputy) was also present. He was carrying a file, and sat in the corner. His attendance was illegal in light of the representative’s presence. I objected, but was overruled. The Prosecutor’s representative defended the indictment. The charge, which carried the death penalty, was not founded on any acceptable laws or evidence. In addition to this, Mojtaba was brought in a few minutes before the proceedings began in handcuffs and chains. We complained. The judge addressed the officer and asked, “What is this about? Unchain him.” Moqaddas explained that the Law Enforcement Forces [LEF] had failed to listen to them. He said they had told the LEF that [chaining the defendant] was illegal, but that the LEF had refused to obey the order. I said, “Woe unto the society in which the police fail to abide by the prosecutor’s orders.” I was sure he was lying.
In any case, the chains were removed from Mojtaba’s hands and feet, and the trial continued. The judge addressed the Prosecutor’s representative and said, “You have requested execution for the accused based on the charge of [insulting the prophet]—can you explain what ‘insulting the prophet’ means? The Prosecutor’s representative and judge Moqaddas were not expecting such a question. Two advisors came to their rescue and argued that the court does not have the right to ask such a question from the Prosecutor’s representative. But the Judge was dead set on his question, so the Prosecutor’s representative put together some unconvincing arguments and presented them to the court. He said that Article 513 of the Islamic Penal Code was meant to address insults to the twelfth Imam. A religious and theoretical debate ensued. I requested that the Judge ask the [Prosecutor’s representative] to provide a list of insulting terms, along with examples. This really upset and angered judge Moqaddas and the Prosecutor’s representative. Judge Moqaddas stood up and left the court, slamming the door behind him. After some discussion, the court adjourned at 4 p.m. and Mojtaba was taken away. The next appointment was set for Wednesday, August 23, 2005; the date was communicated to all the court officers. On Wednesday, very little time was set aside for investigation, and a new appointment was set for Thursday August 24, 2005. The court officers contacted the prison and told them not to bring Saminejad to court on Thursday, so a new time was set for Saturday, August 26, 2005.
It was time for the defense team [to present]. I got up and gave the court a detailed description of the illegal and un-Islamic activities of the Prosecutor’s Office, while referring to relevant articles in the Constitution, Code of Criminal Procedure, and the Citizen Rights Law. During my discussion regarding the Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, I was repeatedly interrupted by the objections of the advisors. The judge dismissed them. Finally three of the advisors objected [again] to my defense, at which point I forcefully reminded [the court] that the state is requesting that a man be put to death, and I can’t even defend him freely and effectively!
The judge showed concern and asked, “Mr. Seifzadeh – why are you upset?!” I responded: “Sir, this court is considering the life or death of an individual. How can we witness so much cruelty 82 and oppression and remain silent?” The Prosecutor’s representative [interrupted and] said that I was giving a political sermon. I responded by saying that it was unfortunate that in his opinion my reliance on the Constitution, the Code of Criminal Procedure, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights amounted to a political sermon. The Prosecutor’s representative then said that my client not only insulted the twelfth Imam, but also denied his existence. I asked him to provide us with an example, and instead he came up with a poem. Then he presented to the court a passage from my client’s weblog, which included a quote from an article entitled Twelfth Imam, What do you Want to Do Upon Your Return? [The article had been] written by another writer and was critiqued by my client. The judge turned to the Prosecutor’s representative and said, “Sir, so what you are saying is that he insulted the Twelfth Imam and denied his existence despite the fact that millions of Sunni Muslims don’t believe in the Twelfth Imam? Are these [Muslims] apostates? Have they insulted the Prophet? Should they be executed?” He then pointed out that the indictment only mentioned the charge of “insulting the prophet,” and that the charge of apostasy had already been rejected.
[In response], the Prosecutor’s representative started making strange contradictory statements. I finished my defense. Mr. Shami, my respectful colleague, satisfactorily explained the Shari’a bases for “insulting the prophet” and apostasy and the defense rested its case. The Prosecutor’s representative asked for extra time and delivered a fervent speech attacking me. I asked for permission to respond. The Judge was in agreement, but the advisors objected. I said: “Judge! The Prosecutor’s representative has made false and inaccurate statements to this court. I must respond to these allegations in the name of Justice and the Rule of Law.” I also reminded him that the Prosecutor’s representative should not have been allowed to speak after the defense rested its case. And that in light of the fact that such permission had been granted, and in the interest of fairness and impartiality, I should be allowed to respond. My request was denied. The court prepared to hear closing arguments. I prepared for my closing statement and positioned myself behind the table. The advisors objected [again]!

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Tagged as:

Free Speech, Right to Protest, Cyber Journalism, Torture, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, Punishment, Due Process, Right to an Attorney, Free Association, Political Freedom, Equality Before the Law, Discrimination