At least eight prisoners in Greater Tehran Penitentiary, Tehran province, are at grave risk of having their finger-amputation sentences carried out imminently. At least three of the men were convicted based on torture-tainted “confessions” following grossly unfair trials. One of the three men, Hadi Rostami, was beaten by prison guards on June 12, 2022, and has since been forcibly disappeared.
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Head of judiciary, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei
c/o Embassy of Iran to the European Union, Avenue Franklin Roosevelt No. 15, 1050 Bruxelles, Belgium
Dear Mr. Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei,
I am gravely concerned that at least eight prisoners held in Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary, Tehran province, are at imminent risk of having their amputation sentences carried out. Since June 8, 2022, the authorities have made two attempts to transfer Hadi Rostami
, Mehdi Sharfian
, Mehdi Shahivand
, Amir Shirmard
, Morteza Jalili
, Ebrahim Rafiei
, Yaghoub Fazeli Koushki
and an unidentified man to a prison with a guillotine machine to implement their sentences. On June 8, 2022, authorities told the men they would be transferred to Tehran’s Evin prison or Raja’i Shahr prison in Karaj, Alborz province, to have their sentences carried out; the transfer was postponed for unknown reasons. On June 11, 2022, authorities removed at least seven of the men from their wards and put them in a vehicle for transfer to another prison to implement their sentences, but the transfer was postponed at the last minute and the men were returned to their cells. According to informed sources, on June 12, 2022, prison guards broke Hadi Rostami’s nose during beatings in reprisal for him speaking out against their sentences, removed him from his prison cell and have refused to inform his family of his fate and whereabouts since, thereby subjecting him to enforced disappearance. Human rights activists in Iran have reported that a guillotine machine was recently installed in the medical clinic of Evin prison and used to amputate four fingers of a prisoner on May 31, 2022. Amputation as a form of punishment constitutes torture – a crime under international law.
The eight men have been convicted of robbery. Hadi Rostami, 35, Mehdi Sharfian, 39, and Mehdi Shahivand, 26, were denied access to lawyers during the investigation phase of their cases and courts relied on torture-tainted “confessions” to convict them, despite the defendants retracting them during their trials. The judicial authorities failed to order any investigations into their torture allegations. According to their court verdicts, they are sentenced to “have four fingers on their right hands completely cut off so only the palm of their hands and thumbs are left”. In protest, on May 29, 2022, Hadi Rostami and Mehdi Shahivand went on hunger strike, ending it on June 2, 2022m after authorities promised to grant them pardons. In February 2021, Hadi Rostami was flogged 60 times in prison after being convicted of “disrupting prison order” in reprisal for his earlier hunger strikes against his inhumane prison conditions and repeated threats that his amputation sentence would be implemented imminently. He has attempted suicide twice in prison, including by swallowing pieces of broken glass, resulting in serious health complications for which the authorities denied him adequate medical care.
I urge you to immediately reveal the fate and whereabouts of Hadi Rostami and quash the convictions and amputation sentences of all eight men, granting them fair retrials without resorting to corporal punishments. I also urge you to ensure that their torture allegations are investigated and that anyone suspected of responsibility for ordering and/or carrying out acts of torture are brought to justice. More broadly, I urge the Iranian authorities to abolish all forms of corporal punishment in law and practice and to treat prisoners and detainees with human dignity.