A Blog Written By Roozbeh Mirebrahimi
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.”
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.”