Thursday, October 15, 2009

Steps away from execution and still uninformed

Rooz online published an interview with prominent human rights lawyer and jurist Nasrin Sotoudeh on Thursday. Sotoudeh has represented numerous women's rights activists for the Campaign for One Million Signatures, which seeks to abrogate gender-discriminatory laws in Iran. She has also been a tireless defender of children's rights and juvenile offenders sentenced to death. Arash Rahmanipour, one of the defendants in the regime's show trials, is her client and it is believed that he has been sentenced to hang. Fereshteh Ghazi conducted this interview. The following is a translation of the full article:

While a fifth death sentence has reportedly been delivered to a defendant in the second session of the show trials of post-election protesters, these verdicts have yet to be conveyed to some defendants and their families.

We spoke to Nasrin Sotoudeh, Arash Rahmanipour's lawyer, about this situation. While confirming that no order for capital punishment has been communicated to her client, she said, 'The court-appointed lawyer told Arash's father that such a ruling has been issued.'

Dr. Mohammad Seifzadeh, Hamed Rouhinejad's lawyer, had previously announced that no official death sentence had been conveyed to his client.

The interview with Nasrin Sotoudeh follows.

Nasrin Sotoudeh, Arash Rahmanipour's lawyer, told Rouz that Mr. Rahmanipour's court-appointed lawyer has given news of his death sentence, but that the ruling which has apparently been issued to the court-appointed lawyer has yet to be shown to Mr. Rahmanipour or his family.

She added: 'My client's name was not among those released by the head of public relations for Tehran's judiciary, but we believe that the person identified as 'A.P.' is my client. (NB Over the weekend, the Iranian Students News Agency released an article quoting judiciary sources who spoke of three death sentences handed out to 'M.Z., A.P., and N.A.') The court-appointed lawyer told Arash's father that Arash's death sentence has been issued. My client has yet to receive such a ruling.'

'Despite numerous applications by me and Arash's family, the court has refused to recognize my power of attorney,' said Sotoudeh. 'There are shocking facts in Mr. Rahmanipour's case file. He was arrested in the first month of the Iranian year (NB March 21 - April 20), and he has nothing to do with the election or the post-election events. They tried to create fear when he was arrested and even arrested his pregnant sister. She was released after several days, but she unfortunately lost her child.'

She added, 'On the day of the show trial, his father met with Arash and told him that I had accepted to represent him. He asked his son to request an adjournment from the court so I could study his case. But as soon as he said this, six security officers approached him and said, Either you get your son to confess right now, or we'll arrest you too.'

According to this jurist, her client admitted to acts he had not committed after he was promised leniency if he confessed and cooperated with the agents.

'The harrassment and arrest of various members of my client's family, confessions to acts which were not committed, and the way his sister was treated, are an indication of the kind of pressure exerted on Arash Rahmanipour who is only 19,' Sotoudeh said.

Sotoudeh said that her client is accused of having links to the Royalist Organization (NB The Anjomaneh Padeshahi, based in the United States). She added, 'Mr. Rahmanipour has had no operational activity within this organization.'

Sotoudeh said that the judge has refused to release two of her other clients, Issa Saharkhiz and Atefeh Nabavi, on bail. (NB Journalist Issa Saharkhiz was arrested on July 4, 2009. Atefeh Nabavi is an activist in the field of education. She was arrested on June 15, 2009.)

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