Night Letters

A Blog Written By Roozbeh Mirebrahimi

8.5 Years Prison, 124 Lashes!‎

Interview with Convicted Bloggers – 2009.02.09


A criminal court in Tehran sentenced 4 bloggers to a total of 8.5 years of prison terms ‎and 124 lashes. Bloggers Javad Gholam Tamimi, Shahram Rafizadeh, Roozbeh Mir ‎Ebrahimi and Omid Memarian received the sentences four years after their release on ‎bail.‎


MirEbrahimi, who has already spent several months in solitary confinement received a 2 year ‎and 2 day prison sentence plus 84 lashes. “We will appeal the verdict within the ‎designated time period one hundred percent and reveal necessary facts about this case. ‎This verdict has no merit and is based only on previous confessions which were extracted ‎under torture and in solitary confinement,” he told Rooz.‎


When asked whether he expected such a harsh sentence four years after meeting with the ‎head of Iran’s judiciary Ayatollah Shahroudi and his promise to rebuke guilty officers ‎and judges in the case Ebrahimi responded, “We have till today not announced the full ‎details of this case and our meetings with officials, thinking we could trust the promise of ‎an official of Ayatollah Shahroudi’s stature. But the sentence that we heard today was ‎completely contrary to what we believed.” Mir Ebrahimi added, “Developments in this case ‎in the past four years, especially replacing four judges in the case pointed to deviations in ‎the process of examining the case.” ‎


On the other hand, journalist and blogger Omid Memarian, who is sentenced to 2.5 years ‎behind bars and 10 lashes, told Rooz, “I was shocked to hear about the sentence because ‎after our meeting at the Constitutional Oversight Committee and explaining the events ‎that transpired during our detention in a meeting we had with Ayatollah Shahroudi, the ‎chief judge promised us to close the case and that he would rebuke individuals who had ‎committed illegal and in certain cases perverted actions during our detention.” ‎


According to Memarian, “Mr. Shahroudi asked us to refrain revealing to the media the ‎details of what had transpired during our detention and that he would resolve the case. ‎Apparently though Mr. Shahroudi lacks the power to implement his orders and our trust ‎in him was unwarranted.”‎


Recalling tortures and psychological pressures imposed on him by detention officers, ‎Memarian said, “The officers who interrogated me and extracted the confessions that ‎they wanted while I was held in solitary confinement under all kinds of physical and ‎psychological pressures were sexual and mental abusers.”‎


Memarian emphasized, “I told Mr. Shahroudi that not just in my case, but in no one’s ‎case should these individuals be left alone in the room with anyone, because they are ‎mentally unstable and capable of doing things that no mentally sane and stable person is ‎able to do. After two months of being subjected to torture in solitary confinement, our ‎lives have never returned to its initial condition because of that dark time’s psychological ‎pressures.” ‎


Details of the Sentence


The sentence, signed by “Judge Hosseini” and forwarded to some of the attorneys of the ‎bloggers and journalists, provides that defendants in the bloggers case are charged with ‎‎“authoring and publishing articles in counter-revolutionary blogs and websites.”‎


The verdict refers to defense arguments put forward by Shirin Ebadi, Mohammad ‎Seifzadeh, Nasreen Sotudeh and Nemat Ahmadi (who represented the four bloggers ‎individually) as “unconvincing defense by attorneys” and announces that in accordance ‎with “defendants’ confessions” and “evidence presented in the case” the following ‎verdicts are issued for the four defendants: first defendant Javad Gholam Tamimi is ‎sentenced to 3 years and 3 months in prison and 10 lashes for “membership in illegal ‎groups,” “treason against country,” “propaganda against regime” and “spreading lies;” ‎second defendant Shahram Rafizadeh is sentenced to 9 months in prison and 20 lashes for ‎‎“membership in illegal groups,” “propaganda against regime,” “spreading lies” and ‎‎“disrupting public order;” third defendant Roozbeh Mir Ebrahimi is sentenced to 2 years ‎and 2 days in prison and 84 lashes for “membership in illegal groups,” “propaganda ‎against regime,” “insulting supreme leader,” “spreading lies” and “disrupting public ‎order;” and fourth defendant Omid Memarian is sentenced to 2.5 years in prison, 10 ‎lashes and 500 thousand Tomans in fines for “membership in illegal groups,” ‎‎“participation in illegal groups,” “propaganda against regime,” “spreading lies” and ‎‎“possession of playing cards,” which the judge refers to as “gambling tools.” ‎


Case History


Shahram Rafizdeh, Roozbeh Mir Ebrahimi, Omid Memarian and Javad Gholam Tamimi ‎were arrested in September 2004 along with 17 other individuals and spent several ‎months in secret detention facilities in solitary confinement and forced to confess under ‎pressure by Tehran’s Prosecutor General Saeed Mortazavi.‎


Following their temporary release, brought about by widespread protests from the ‎Association of Iranian journalists, international human rights organizations and the-then ‎president Mohammad Khatami, the bloggers revealed the account of their tortures and ‎met with the head of judiciary on October 6, 2004.‎


The details of that meeting have not yet been published but Mohammad Khatami’s ‎deputy, Mohammad Ali Abtahi, wrote on his blog at the time that, after hearing the ‎details of tortures the bloggers were subjected to and threats received by their families, ‎Ayatollah Shahroudi was visibly shaken and ordered for officers in charge of the case to ‎be prosecuted.‎


A day after the meeting, Jamal Karimi-Rad, former judiciary spokesperson said that ‎Ayatollah Shahroudi has ordered the case to be taken away from Tehran’s Prosecutor ‎General and appointed a 3-man committee to investigate the matter.‎


The next month, the head of Tehran’s court system, Abasali Alizadeh, told ISNA and ‎IRNA, “Certain officers and judiciary’s officials committed violations throughout the ‎case, including in extracting confessions from defendants.”‎


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This entry was posted on February 9, 2009 by in Featured, Interview, Quoted and tagged .


February 2009



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