Monday, April 02, 2007

Mother of Imprisoned Journalist: I Revert to God !
Omid Memarian - 2007.04.04
As the month of March came to its end, Ali Farahbakhsh, the journalists who has spent the last 5 months in prison in Iran on charges of espionage, was sentenced to three years imprisonment. His mother Badri Farahbakhsh and his father who is a retired judge tried everything to secure their son’s release. In her words, the judge for the case openly told her that he would not follow the instructions of the head of Iran’s judiciary to release Ali on bail. Following are the excerpts of an interview Rooz had with his mother Badri:
Rooz (R): What is the latest official news about your son:Ali Farahbakhsh (AF): I was in court today and spoke with the court clerk. Judge Babai was not there himself. They have made a mistake in the sentence. They added a zero the sum of money that they claim my son received from foreigners. In the charges brought against my son, the amount that is mentioned is $2,300. But the judge changed that to $23,000. My husband says the charge is a joke. How could anyone be a spy for $2,300? Nobody believes that.
R: Did anyone from the court give any explanation about this mistake?AF: Ali’s attorney was surprised when he saw the sentence and why the amount of money had been changed. He wanted to talk to the judge, but was told to wait until the end of the Iranian Nowruz holidays (which officially end on April 2nd, 2007). This is how lightly they take these things. The judge who passed this sentence should not be able to sleep peacefully at night, just as he has deprived us of sleep. How can they talk of Nowruz celebrations while we are going through hell. The morning I returned, they told me that the numbers was a typo. I asked him whether he understood what adding a simple zero does to the family of an imprisoned person, to which he responded that they had corrected the issue and asked for a review.
R: How did this happen? The extra zero.AF: I do not believe this was a mistake. How can a judge not read the sentence? I am sure if my son had seen this figure, he would have had a heart attack.
R: Have they promised to change the sentence?AF: I hope the sentence will be changed in the appellate court. We plan to sue the judiciary for causing us such distress in the mistake they have made. But when the word of the chief of the judiciary branch is not heeded to, how do you expect our efforts to succeed?R: In response to your letter, Mr. Shahrudi, the head of the Judiciary Branch had requested that your son be released on bail. Where did that go?AF: The judge blatantly told me he was not going to implement Mr. Shahrudi’s request. Our attorney put Shahrudi’s letter in the dossier, but every time I wanted to talk about it with the judge, he told me not to. He was indifferent to the letter, and did not care that Mr. Shahrudi was the head of this country’s judiciary. This makes one wonder: when the words of the head of the judiciary are ignored, how can one expect them to even listen to me. Mr. Shahrudi even sent a letter to the head of Tehran’s judiciary explaining that injustice was done to my son. Only my son’s release can compensate the pain that I have gone through.
R: Did they explain the reason for his detention during the Nowruz celebrations, especially as the investigation phase had been complete?AF: I do not know what is at play that even when the head of Tehran’s judiciary appointed a judge to investigate the issue, nothing came out of it. The investigative judge told me that he had read the charges and that there was no problem with asking for bail. Still, our efforts to have our son with us during Nowruz were useless.
R: Did they say when the appeal would take place? AF: They said they would apply after April 2nd.
R: How was your son when you last spoke with him?AF: He was very, very demoralized. His heart aches had returned and so he needs the care of a specialist.
R: What did Ali think about the sentence?AF: He was in a state of shock. The whole event from arrest, to detention and trail has been a nightmare for him. Out of fear for his condition, we did not tell him about the mistake in the Dollar number. He says he is innocent and that they have cocked up these charges against him. Ali’s colleagues too believe and say that he is innocent.
R: How are his wife and child?AF: She is in a bad state as well. Especially as they live in Ramsar (a city in northern part of Iran). She is a surgeon who is doing her service out of Tehran while their infant is only 18 months old. She used to come to Tehran once a week to see her husband and then go back because of her work.
R: Has Ali’s attorney applied for bail?AF: They would not allow Ali to see his attorney prior to the trial. On the day of trail they saw each other for the first time. The court hearings were in cameraR: Are you going to follow things up with Mr. Shahrudi?AF: No. Because he already made recommendations on two occasions. There is no one else to see, so we are reverting to God. Ali’s father is ill too, and does not leave the house for weeks and says he did deserve this after years of service to his country and people. He said he was ready to go and spend time in solitary confinement instead of his son.
R: What would you tell the judge if you were to meet him?AF: I hate you. You have broken my heart as a mother. You have injured my soul, made baseless accusations, and I hope God will punish you for it.

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