|Death Sentence Against Iranian Journalist Overturned|
KHRP is glad to report that the Tehran Supreme Court has overturned a death sentence against the Kurdish journalist Adnan Hassanpour, whose case we have highlighted in communications with United Nations human rights mechanisms and in our public reporting since his arrest last year.
Following his arrest in Marivan in January 2007, Hassanpour and Hiwa Butimar, a colleague of his who had been detained shortly before, were accused of acts against national security. Family members were unable to discover the whereabouts of the two men for long periods following their arrest. They reportedly had only very limited access to legal council and are believed to have been tortured in custody. Both Hassanpour and Butimar have been on hunger strike to protest the circumstances of their detention.
In July 2007 Hassanpour and Butimar were sentenced to death by hanging. Following the ruling, KHRP submitted urgent appeals to six UN bodies, including the Special Rapporteur on Torture and the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions.
In October 2007, the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence against Hassanpour and overturned the sentence against Butimar. In clear violation of fair trial principles, the judges decided to return Butimar’s case to the same court in Marivan that had sentenced him to death in the first place, and which duly passed the same sentence again in April 2008. On 3 June 2008, in response to the second sentence against Butimar, KHRP again submitted requests for urgent action to relevant UN human rights mechanisms.
“Right from the start, the conditions of detention and the manner of the legal proceedings against these two men have precluded any chance of a fair trial,” said KHRP Deputy Director Rachel Bernu. “Unfortunately, theirs is not an isolated case but is representative of endemic human rights violations throughout Iran, and in particular the special vulnerability of Kurdish activists and writers.”
Hassanpour’s case has now reportedly been sent back to the lower court in Sanandaj, with a new trial expected to begin there on 6 September. One of the judges at the Sanandaj court who presided over his original trial has apparently since been sacked.