Iran Human Rights (Mar 29, 2018): Saleh was tortured to confess a crime; he was sentenced to death in spite of being a minor, without having any firm evidence. The court relied on oath that was taken by 50 relatives of the victim who didn’t even know the defendant but claimed that he was the murderer.
In April 2012, Saleh went to a farm with his father when he was nearly 16. He was standing near a well where one of the workers fell and died.
Saleh Shari’ati’s Lawyer, Abdorrasoul Jahankhah, told IHR that the plaintiffs first filed a lawsuit against the well's owner. But later Saleh was arrested and tortured to confess he is the murderer.
Because there was no evidence proving his guilt, the judge ordered Qassameh which means that 50 of victim’s relatives should take an oath saying they believe that the Saleh was the murderer. The forensic reports didn’t reveal any evidence proving any conflicts between the victim and anyone else. Abdorrasoul Jahankhah pointed out that three people testified that Saleh didn’t murder the victim, but the judge didn’t pay attention to their testimony.
Read more about Qassameh:
Article 340 of the Islamic Penal Code states “It is not necessary for oath taker to be the witness to the crime and his knowledge of his oath is sufficient. Moreover, it is not necessary for the judge to know the source of the oath taker’s knowledge and the oath taker’s claim is valid unless it is proven otherwise.”
The Supreme Court had earlier rejected the verdict, but after a rehearing, the death sentence was issued again. Saleh Shari’ati’s Lawyer stated that he has appealed against the latest verdict.
IHR’s interview with Saleh Shari’ati’s Lawyer, Abdorrasoul Jahankhah:
Was Saleh Shari’ati sentenced to death through Qassameh?
Yes, the ruling was issued two or three times. It is not final yet. I have enough evidence. I mean, there was an eyewitness where the victim fell. Besides, Saleh was only 16. But, unfortunately, the first court reached a verdict under the influence of the victim’s next of kin and they got carried away.
The case will be processed by the Supreme Court again.
How many times has Mr. Shari’ati been sentenced to death so far?
It’s the third time.
Do you mean that the Supreme Court has rejected the verdict two times?
Yes! It must be rejected because the defendant is not a murderer. Besides, the defendant was a minor and he wasn’t mentally mature at the time of the incident regardless of whether he was guilty or not. Unfortunately, the court didn’t listen to the testimonies. Nevertheless, we have evidence proving the defendant innocent.
Three eyewitnesses saw that the victim fell down the well while washing his head. First, the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the owner of the well, but after a few months, they file a lawsuit against Saleh. I explained all of this in his case thoroughly.
Why doesn’t the court accept the testimony of the three witnesses?
They just don’t! They just performed Qassameh. 40 of the people who took an oath didn’t even qualify for it. Our law, states that in Qassameh the relatives [of the victim] should take an oath. This law doesn’t specify the relationship of the relative to the victim.
We have eyewitnesses and a forensic report. There was no conflict or fight. Their point is invalid.
In the police station in Fasa, a 15-year-old boy was tortured in front of the next of kin, and the court relies on a confession extracted like this and sentences him to death!
We hope that the Supreme Court judges study the case patiently and reject the verdict. In cases like this where the verdict is issued based on emotions, there should be a judge who can process the situation objectively.
Was Saleh Shari’ati sent to the forensics to assess his mental maturity?
Yes, he was! But the forensic physicians are afraid to lose their jobs, so they don’t report the truth.
The medical commission reports a fully mentally mature person as “immature” or someone who is obviously extremely sick as “able to withstand imprisonment”.
The forensic physicians have approved Saleh’s maturity. We objected it and asked the medical commission to explain it legally. We don’t know who to turn to. What should we tell our clients?