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Iran Court Indicts Human Rights Lawyer With 9 Charges

Iranian lawyer Mohammad Najafi who was arrested by security forces in city of Arak, undated.

Reports from Tehran say human rights lawyer Mohammad Najafi, has been indicted on nine charges.

Najafi has been ivestigating the death in custody of Vahid Heydari, a young man who died in jail following his arrest during the protests in January.

He died in a cell at a police station in Arak, in Iran’s Central Province. Iranian authorities portrayed his death as “suicide,” charging that he was “a drug addict in possession of illegal substances” at the time of his arrest.

Consequently, when a member of parliament said that Najafi has conducted research that proved Heydari was neither a drug addict, nor a dealer, the Iranian Judiciary charged the lawyer with several accusations.

Najafi’s defense lawyer, Payam Derafshan, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that previously the indictment contained eight charges, but another accusation was added to the indictment during the final investigation.

“Accusations against Najafi include, organizing a group to disrupt the country’s security, membership in a group planning to disrupt security, propagating against the regime, insulting the Supreme Leader, spreading lies, and sending information abroad,” said Derafshan.

He said “there are no evidence to back these accusations,” adding that “there is in fact just one accusation repeated in other forms.”

Derafshan added that security forces have put pressure on other detainees to “confess” that Mr. Najafi has encouraged them to take part in the protest gatherings, but the inmates refused to do so.

He added that the arrest warrant for Najafi has been extended following its expiration last week, and that he has been transferred from his cell to the “public ward” in Arak prison.

Najafi was arrested outside his home on January 15.

Najafi’s lawyer, Payam Derafshan, says that the intelligence office in Shazand, a small town near Arak, has fabricated several cases against Najafi during recent years.

Meanwhile, international human rights watchdogs revealed that several civil liberty activists in Shazand have been arrested at the same time as Najafi.

In another development, Ali Baqeri, a political activist in Shazand, who had disclosed that the dead inmate’s family members had been “threatened” was also arrested.