Story of a recent execution: If you're innocent, you'll go to heaven after you're hanged

May 12, 2016, 12:06 p.m.

Iran Human Rights (May 12 2016): Iran Human Rights has obtained a phone interview conducted by the human rights news site, HRANA, with Azadeh Geravand, the wife of Reza Hosseini, a man who was recently executed by Iranian authorities on drug charges. HRANA has also published court documents and Mr. Hosseini's will. According to these documents, Reza Hosseini, who was executed on May 3, had insisted on his innocence in court and did not possess a previous criminal record. Iran Human Rights (IHR) calls on the United Nations to conduct an independent investigation into Reza Hosseini's case.

Reza Hosseini, 34, who resided in the city of Kuhdasht (located in the province of Lorestan, western Iran), was reportedly among four prisoners hanged to death on Tuesday May 3 at Karaj's Ghezel Hesar Prison (northern Iran). In an unfair trial that reportedly lasted only a couple minutes, a notorious revolutionary court judge by the name of "Tayerani" sentenced Hosseini to death on drug related charges without presenting a single piece of evidence to support the claims. According to official court documents obtained by Iran Human Rights, Hosseini was charged with possession of 140 kilograms and 305 grams of heroin, but he never pled guilty in court or accepted the charges against him.

Iran Human Rights has also obtained a copy of a will Hosseini wrote before his execution where he insists that he was innocent and makes reference to a remark Tayerani made to him in court: If you are innocent, then you will go to heaven after you are hanged.

Reza Hosseini was first detained in Fashafaviye, Tehran's central prison, before his transfer to Ghezel Hesar. "In the first 70 days of his imprisonment Reza was subjected to torture and interrogations. We were not allowed to visit him until he was transferred to Ghezel Hesar Prison. But, even then, we weren't granted our first visit with him until after 11 months of imprisonment," says Geravand in the phone interview.

Before his execution Hosseini was reportedly transferred to solitary confinement. As he was being transferred, a prison guard reportedly lent his phone to Hosseini in order for him to call his wife and inform her of his imminent execution. "When we realized his death sentence was to be carried out, Reza's mother and I somehow managed to drive 840 kilometres to Ghezel Hesar Prison to see him for the last time. But, once we arrived, the authorities did not allow us to visit him. Instead, they hurled insults at us."

Geravand insists her husband is innocent. "The narcotics mentioned in Reza's case file were discovered by authorities in our neighbour's home whom we don't even know. The only reason why Reza was arrested is because he got into a physical altercation with the authorities in the parking lot of our residence," she says.

According to Geravand, the Prosecutor on her husband's case file had reassured the family that Hosseini was indeed innocent and would be exonerated. However, in a trial that reportedly lasted two minutes, Judge Tayerani allegedly offered to help Hosseini if he agreed to plead guilty. "My husband had asked the Judge, 'Why should I plead guilty if I am innocent?' And that's when the Judge responded: If you are innocent, then you will go to heaven after you are hanged."

Every year several hundred people are executed for drug offences in Iran. According to IHR's 2015 annual report on the death penalty, at least 638 people were hanged for drug-related charges. According to IHR's reports and witness testimonies, people who are arrested for drug charges in Iran are systematically subjected to torture and do not have access to a lawyer during the interrogation period. There are many reports about death sentences issued by the revolutionary courts for drug charges following sham trials which last only a few minutes.