Iranian Kurdish prisoner Heidar Ghorbani, 47, is at risk of execution for “armed rebellion against the state” (baghi), despite serious fair trial violations and the trial court confirming that he was never armed. His conviction is based on torture-tainted “confessions”, obtained while he was forcibly disappeared. The authorities must quash his sentence and grant him a fair retrial.
Head of the Judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi
c/o H.E. Majid Takht Ravanchi
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Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran
622 Third Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Phone: 212 687-2020 I Fax: 212 867 7086
Email: [email protected]
Salutation: Dear Ambassador
Dear Mr. Raisi,
Heidar Ghorbani, a member of Iran’s Kurdish minority held on death row in Sanandaj prison in Kurdistan province, is at risk of execution. Branch 27 of Iran’s Supreme Court upheld his death sentence on 6 August 2020. On 5 September 2020, the Supreme Court rejected his request for judicial review.
On 21 January 2020, a Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj convicted Heidar Ghorbani of “armed rebellion against the state” and sentenced him to death in connection with the killing of three men reportedly affiliated with the Basij paramilitary forces in September and October 2016 by individuals affiliated with the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran, an armed Kurdish opposition group. In its verdict, the court acknowledged that Heidar Ghorbani was never armed. Instead, it relied on his torture-tainted statements “confessing” to having provided support to the perpetrators of the killings, including by driving them to and from the locations of the killings. Amnesty International recalls that the verdict issued violates both Iran’s obligations under international law, which limits the use of the death penalty to the “most serious crimes” involving intentional killing, as well as Iran’s own laws which stipulate that in order to establish the crime of “armed rebellion against the state”, the defendant must be a member of an armed group and personally resort to arms. Heidar Ghorbani’s trial was grossly unfair. Following his arrest on 11 October 2016, the authorities put him in solitary confinement for several months and subjected him to enforced disappearance. He has said that during this period, he was repeatedly tortured to give a video-recorded “confession” that was broadcast by the state-run Press TV prior to his trial in March 2017.
I urge you to quash the conviction and death sentence of Heidar Ghorbani and order a fair retrial without recourse to the death penalty. Please ensure that his enforced disappearance and torture allegations are investigated with a view to ensuring that those suspected of responsibility are brought to justice in fair trials, and take measures to ensure “confessions” obtained under torture and other ill-treatment or without the presence of a lawyer are not used as evidence in court.