Iranian-American Scholar Prevented From Filing an Appeal
In a Blatantly Illegal Act, Authorities Denying Kian Tajbakhsh’s Right to Appeal
On 18 October, Tajbakhsh was sentenced to 15 years in prison by a lower court. According to the Iranian law, a defendant has 20 days to file an appeal. With only 10 days left for such an appeal to be filed, Judiciary officials have repeatedly refused to allow Tajbakhsh’s lawyer to file the required paperwork.
According to sources close to Tajbakhsh’s family, the officials have responded to the lawyer’s protests by telling him, “It’s our law, so we can do what we want with it.”
“The Iranian Judiciary is blatantly trampling over its own rules and regulations. In doing so, the authorities are confirming that Tajbakhsh’s detention, trial and conviction are patently politically motivated,” said Hadi Ghaemi, the Campaign’s spokesperson.
“By treating the law in this arbitrary manner, they are also demonstrating that the rule of law means nothing in Iran,” he said.
The Campaign called on the head of the Judiciary, Sadiq Larijani, to immediately review Tajbakhsh’s case and in light of serious irregularities to order an impartial appeals court to take on the case.
Tajbakhsh was prosecuted along with over a hundred other defendants during the past two months in “show trials” that human rights organizations have condemned as lacking any due process or respect for minimum international standards of justice.
Tajbakhsh’s indictment, read in the courtroom on 25 August, included the following charges, to which he was found guilty despite prosecutors having produced no supporting evidence: “Acting against national security, by membership in the internet network related to Gary Sick, a CIA agent, and other foreign elements with the purpose of urging people to riot in presidential elections; spying and connections with foreign elements against the sacred system of the Islamic Republic; accepting a consultancy position with the Soros Foundation aimed at the soft overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran; propaganda activities against the sacred system of the Islamic Republic by participation in illegal assemblies and causing doubt and giving impression of fraud and cheating in election results; and causing lack of public trust towards the official national organs and the ruling system by instigating rioting, mayhem, fear and terror within the society.”
Heavy prison sentences doled out for defendants in post-election “show-trials”
(20 October 2009) The Iranian Judiciary should rescind a 15-year prison sentence issued against Kian Tajbakhsh, a dual national Iranian-American sociologist, and order an immediate review of his case and those of others on trial or already sentenced in bogus “show trials,” the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today.
Tajbakhsh was prosecuted along with over a hundred other defendants during the past two months in politically-motivated “show trials” that human rights organizations have condemned as lacking any due process or respect for minimum international standards of justice.
Tajbakhsh was not allowed access to an independent lawyer and had a court appointed lawyer, Houshang Azhari. On 20 October, Azhari told the Associated Press that Tajbakhsh’s sentence was “more than 12 years,” but he could not “divulge further details.” The Campaign has been informed that Tajbakhsh has been sentenced to a total of 15 years by the lower court.
Charges against Tajbakhsh reportedly include espionage, cooperation with an enemy government, and acting against national security. Similar charges have been brought by lower branches of the Revolutionary Courts against other detainees in previous years, including Roxana Saberi, an Iranian-American journalist originally sentenced to eight years. However Saberi’s appeals court threw out the lower court’s sentencing, rejecting the charge that the United States could be considered “an enemy government.”
“Tajbakhsh’s sentence is politically motivated and the Iranian justice system continues to demonstrate blatant double standards of justice. Tajbakhsh has been prosecuted for his beliefs and should be released immediately,” said Aaron Rhodes, the Campaign’s spokesperson.
The “show trials” have also resulted in lengthy sentences against political activists. Saeed Hajjarian was given a five-year suspended sentence. Shahab Tabatabai and Hedayat Aghaie, both reformist politicians, were each sentenced to five years in prison. Masoud Bastani, a journalist, received a five-year prison sentence. The Campaign believes these defendants have been prosecuted solely for their political beliefs and writings.
All of the above sentences are subject to review by an appeals court. The Campaign called on the head of the Judiciary, Hojatoleslam Sadiq Larijani, to put a stop to these unfair trials and immediately order an appeals court headed by politically non-partisan judges to review recent sentences and pending cases.
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