UN rights experts call for Iran to stop Kurdish prisoner’s imminent execution


UN-appointed independent human rights experts have called for a stay in the execution of Iranian Kurdish political prisoner, Heidar Ghorbani and his death sentence repealed.

Their appeal on Friday (Sept. 03) follows serious concerns that Mr. Ghorbani did not receive a fair trial and was tortured during pre-trial detention.

In a statement, the rights experts said that they were “seriously concerned” that the 48-year old’s confession was forced as a result of torture and ill-treatment.

They also expressed concerns that he had been denied access to a lawyer during the investigation, and that later his attorney did not have full access to his case file during the trial.

“Allegations of torture and confessions extracted under duress are extremely concerning, as is the fact that these allegations did not lead to any investigation and appear not to have been considered by the Court during his trial,” the experts said.

Mr. Ghorbani was arrested in October 2016 in connection with the alleged killing of three men affiliated to Basij paramilitary forces and no information was provided to his family on his whereabouts until three months later.

In October 2019, a Criminal Court convicted Mr. Ghorbani of aiding and abetting murder, attempted kidnapping and assisting the perpetrators of the attack to escape.

He was sentenced to 118 years and six months in prison.

The following January, a Revolutionary Court in Kurdistan Province convicted him of an armed rebellion against the State, called baghi, and sentenced him to death – despite the court’s acknowledgement in the verdict that Mr. Ghorbani was never armed.

Iran’s Criminal Code stipulates that to establish the crime of baghi, the defendant must be a member of an armed group and personally resort to arms.

During his trial, Mr. Ghorbani denied all charges, stating that he was not a member of a Kurdish political organization and never had a weapon when the victims were killed, the rights experts noted.

In August 2020, Iran’s Supreme Court upheld the death sentence and rejected Mr. Ghorbani’s requests for a judicial review in September 2020 and again in August 2021.

His sentence may be carried out at any time. (Source: UN News)