Iranian Kurdish prisoner Heidar Ghorbani is at risk of execution for "baghi," or armed rebellion against the state), despite serious violations of his trial court and the court's findings that he was never armed, Amnesty International reported on Tuesday, September 22.
As article 287 of Iran's Islamic Penal Code states, "Any group that takes up arms against the foundations of the Islamic Republic of Iran is considered "baghi" and in the event of resorting to the use of arms, its members shall be sentenced to death."
However, according to information recorded in Ghorbani's casefile since 2017 and obtained by Amnesty International, there is no evidence to charge him with armed rebellion against the state.
Ghorbani and his brother-in-law, Mahmoud Sadeqi, who lived in a village in Kamyaran in Kurdistan Province, were arrested in October 2016 on charges of "collaborating and assisting in the killing of several members of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps." Ghorbani was arrested by several agents from the Ministry of Intelligence who raided his home and failed to show an arrest warrant. For nearly three months, Ghorbani's family was denied any information about his fate and whereabouts and did not even know if he was dead or alive.
Amnesty International also cited sources as saying that the prosecutor has admitted that the indictment lists this charge apparently under the influence of security and intelligence bodies.
In a letter to Iran's Head of Judiciary, Ebrahim Raeisi, Amnesty International has called on him to "quash Ghorbani's sentence" and "grant him a fair retrial."
Currently behind bars in Sanandaj prison, the forty-seven-year-old Ghorbani had appealed his sentencing, but Iran's Supreme Court upheld his death sentence on September 6.
The next week, Ghorbani's lawyers appealed to Raeisi to exercise the powers granted to him under Article 477 of Iran's Code of Criminal Procedure and order a review of the case on the basis that the verdict issued is evidently in contravention with both Iranian and Shari'a law.
Raeisi has not yet responded to their appeal.
On March 8, 2017, Press TV, an Iranian state-owned outlet that broadcasts in English, aired a propaganda video entitled "The Driver of Death," which featured the forced "confessions" of Ghorbani without his knowledge.
Ghorbani's wife, Sharareh Sadeghi, released a video emphasizing that her husband was "under the most severe physical and mental torture" and called for international help to stop his death sentence.
In the video, which was posted on social media on September 19, Sadeghi called her husband's death sentence "arbitrary and unjust" and said that she and her children were living in the "most bitter and miserable" situation.
'Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender, or the method used by the state to kill the prisoner. The death penalty is a violation of the right to life and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment," The international human rights organization said in its statement on Tuesday, September 22.
There has been an alarming escalation in using the death penalty against protesters, dissidents, and members of minority groups in Iran in recent months.
Amnesty International noted that death row prisoners from Iran's disadvantaged ethnic minorities are particularly at risk, given the authorities' pattern of executing prisoners from these groups when worried about the eruption of widespread protests.