CHRI – “You People Have No Right to Breath,” Judge Allegedly Told Political Prisoner Masoud Kazemi
The notoriously hardline judge presiding over the case of former magazine editor Masoud Kazemi has repeatedly expressed hatred toward the political prisoner and refused to reduce the exorbitantly high one billion toman [$237,206 USD] bail amount set for his case, a source told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
Kazemi’s lawyer has meanwhile filed a complaint against Judge Mohammad Moghiseh for his blatant display of bias in Kazemi’s case.
“During the trial, Judge Moghiseh told Masoud, ‘you people have no right to breath; your hands should be crushed; you should be blown up with gunpowder poured into your mouth; your pens should be broken,’” a source with detailed knowledge of Kazemi’s case told CHRI on May 29, 2019.
The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for security reasons, added that Judge Moghiseh knew Kazemi would not be able to afford to post the bail amount.
“Masoud was unemployed for seven months before his arrest [on November 6, 2018],” said the source. “When he was working, his monthly salary was never more than two million tomans ($474 USD).”
“He has to support his 11-year-old son,” added the source. “How can he come up with a billion tomans?”
“The judge has set an amount beyond Masoud’s means in order to keep him in prison,” said the source.
Despite the threat of imprisonment, Kazemi’s lawyer, Ali Mojtahedzadeh, has publicly criticized Judge Moghiseh for his handling of Kazemi’s case.
“The behavior displayed by [Judge] Moghiseh was absolutely unbecoming of a judge, especially a cleric,” Mojtahedzadeh tweeted on May 22. “He cursed at Masoud Kazemi during the trial and exhibited conduct that was unimaginably strange.”
“Today I submitted to Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court a written defense in which I did not defend my client but instead expressed… my objection to the judge’s deviation from impartiality,” he said.
Judge Moghiseh is known in Iran for sentencing peaceful detainees including journalists, activists, and dissidents to lengthy prison terms in politically sensitive cases.
According to testimonies cited by Justice for Iran, an organization that has documented the executions of thousands of political prisoners in Iran in the 1980s, Moghiseh also played a significant role in the torture and persecution of political prisoners in Gohardasht, Evin, and Ghezelhesar prisons during that time.
Kazemi, who has worked at major reformist newspapers in Iran including Ghanoon and Shargh, was arrested on November 6, 2018, for tweeting about alleged corruption at the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Trade, and questioning President Hassan Rouhani’s presidential adviser Hesamoddin Ashena about the murders of Iranian dissidents in the late 1990s when Ashena was deputy intelligence minister.
He was released on bail five days later.
The former editor-in-chief of the Sedaye Parsi (Persian Voice) political magazine, Kazemi is facing five charges including two that were added during his May 22 trial at Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran: “disturbing public opinion,” “insulting the supreme leader,” “insulting officials,” “propaganda against the state” and “assembly and collusion against national security.”