CHRI – A Kurdish man who has been sentenced to death in Iran despite serious concerns about how his case was handled has been transferred hundreds of miles to a prison near Tehran for unknown reasons, raising fears he could soon be executed.
“His family is worried because it is not clear if he has been transferred to receive treatment or if they want to carry out his execution,” Osman Mozayyan, one of Ramin Hossein Panahi’s lawyers, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on August 14, 2018.
“But what is clear is that… the sentence against him was issued by a court in Sanandaj and legally that is where he should be incarcerated. I and two other lawyers are pursuing the matter,” he added.
Panahi, who was initially due to be hospitalized for kidney problems in Sanandaj, the capital of Iran’s Kurdistan Province, had phoned his family on August 13 to tell them he was being taken to Rajaee Shahr Prison in Karaj but did not say why, according to his brother Amjad Hossein Panahi.
“Surrounded by security forces in several cars, they took Ramin out of Sanandaj prison at 11 on Monday night,” Amjad Hossein Panahi told CHRI. “When relatives inquired at the court, they were told that he had been transferred to receive treatment, which is strange because the hospitals in Sanandaj are equipped to treat kidney problems.”
“It’s unimaginable to dispatch a prisoner on death row more than 500 kilometers (310 miles) away just for kidney treatment,” he added.
Panahi and his family have experienced other false alarms since he was sentenced to death in January 2018 by Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj for his alleged membership in the outlawed Kurdish nationalist group, Komala. He has also been accused of drawing a weapon against agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Panahi, 22, has insisted he did not participate in any armed action nor did he reach for a weapon.
Iran’s Supreme Court upheld the sentence in April and his execution was scheduled for May 3 but was postponed after international outcry by the United Nations and rights organizations. Panahi’s request for a case review was then rejected by Iran’s Supreme Court, leaving him in danger of imminent execution.
The UN’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard, has cited concerns that Panahi was denied access to a lawyer, a fair trial, and that he was mistreated and tortured in detention.
CHRI has called on the Iranian judiciary to cease politically motivated executions, stop violating international standards of due process, and guarantee the rights of detainees to counsel of their choice as well as a fair trial in line with UN standards.