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Turkish Citizen Hatem Özdemir Resentenced to Death; Without Due Process and Consular Assistance

11 Jun
Turkish Citizen Hatem Özdemir Resentenced to Death; Without Due Process and Consular Assistance

Iran Human Rights (IHRNGO); June 11, 2024: Hatem Özdemir, a Kurdish Turkey national and Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) member, has been resentenced to death by Branch 3 of the Urmia Revolutionary Court. His sentence was previously overturned by the Supreme Court.

Hatem Özdemir, a Kurdish PKK member and citizen of Turkey, was arrested at the border of Iran and Turkey in the Chaldran region when he and his group were ambushed by IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) forces.

He was held in the IRGC Intelligence Organisation’s custody for two years and nine months before being sentenced to death for charges of baghy (armed rebellion) by Branch One of the Khoy Revolutionary Court. His sentence was subsequently overturned by Branch 9 of the Supreme Court, presided over by Ghasem Maziani, and referred to a court of equal standing.

On 23 April 2024, Branch 3 of the Urmia Revolutionary Court, presided over by Reza Najafzadeh, resentenced Hatem to death in absentia and without his lawyers being notified or present. The sentence relied on testimony by new witnesses who were not present at the scene of the alleged crime and ignored previous eyewitness accounts and findings that Hatem had not used his weapon that day. 

Mr Najafzadeh previously issued the death sentences of Mansour Rasouli, Mohammad Khezrnejad, Nasim Namazi, Vafa Hanareh and Aram Omri Bardiani.

Speaking to Iran Human Rights, one of Hatem Özedemir’s lawyers, Mohammad Saleh Nikbakht said: “baghy requires the defendant to have used their weapon according to the Islamic Penal Code (Art 287) and Hatem hadn’t used his gun. Additionally, the Assistant Prosecutor of the Supreme Court, representing the Attorney General of the country, had already specified three reasons for why Hatem cannot be convicted of baghy charges.”

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Mr Nikbakht also spoke about consular assistance from the Turkish government: “As far as I know, the Turkish government or their consulate in Iran have not taken any action in this case, and in light of previous cases, even if PKK members escape execution in Iran or return to Turkey after completing their sentences, they will be re-arrested and sentenced to severe punishments after returning to Turkey.”