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Iran to execute youth aged 18

Here is an email from Peter Tatchell:

False accusation of homosexual assault – Now withdrawn by accuser

Ebrahim Hamidi faces execution by hanging, despite no legal representation

His lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, forced into hiding by arrest warrant

Iran’s Supreme Court twice rejects guilty verdict and orders re-examination

Provincial court presses ahead with execution plan, defying Supreme Court

London – 4 August 2010

Gay Middle East and OutRage! are issuing an urgent appeal to save the life of 18 year old Iranian, Ebrahim Hamidi, who was sentenced to death on 21 June 2010 for a vague, unspecified sexual assault on a male. He is now awaiting hanging, despite his accuser admitting that he lied, and withdrawing his accusation of assault.

In addition, the Supreme Court of Iran has twice rejected the provincial court’s guilty verdict and death sentence and ordered a re-examination of the case. This ruling has been ignored by the local judiciary in East Azerbaijan province.

Ebrahim’s execution could take place at any time.

He now has no legal representation. His lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, has been forced into hiding after a warrant for his arrest was issued. The Iranian authorities are furious over over Mostafaei’s highly publicised efforts to stop the stoning to death of Sakineh Ashtiani on charges of adultery.

“There is no evidence that Hamidi is gay or that he committed any crime. This execution must be stopped. We need your help,” said Dan Littauer, editor of Gay Middle East.

“Ebrahim’s case shows the flaws and failings of the Iranian legal system. It is further evidence that innocent people are sentenced on false charges of homosexuality,” added Peter Tatchell of the London-based LGBTI human rights group OutRage!

“The claims of the Iranian authorities cannot be trusted. Our best hope is to persuade the Chief Justice of Iran, Sadeq Larijani, to veto Ebrahim’s execution.

“Wherever you live, get your MP/Congressperson/Deputy and Foreign Minister to lobby the Iranian Chief Justice.

“An international campaign can help stop Ebrahim’s execution, just as a similar global campaign has, so far, halted the stoning to death of Sakineh Ashtiani.

If you live in the UK:

“We urge people to ask their MP and MEPs to lobby the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, and the Iranian Ambassador to London.

“Letters from MPs and MEPs will have maximum influence and impact. Please urge your MP and MEPs write letters of protest urgently.

“I call on William Hague and David Cameron to make representations to the Chief Justice of Iran to halt Hamidi’s execution, annul the death sentence and order a re-trial,” said Mr Tatchell.

To email your MP and MEP, go to this website:

www.writetothem.com

Include the briefing below in your email to your MP and MEP.

Thank you.

See Dan Littauer’s three articles and reports on the Hamidi case below:

Briefing

A youth is facing imminent execution in Iran based on a mere false accusation
By Dan Littauer, Editor, Gay Middle East, and Joshua Hunt, contributing journalist.

14 July 2010

You don’t even need to be gay or lesbian in Iran to be in mortal danger – a simple, unfounded accusation can be enough to see you sentenced to death. On the 8th of July 2010, the famous Iranian human rights lawyer, Mohammad Mostafai, announced in a press release that three of his four clients were cleared of sodomy charges, but one, an 18 year old youth named Ebrahim Hamidi, was sentenced to be executed.

Hamidi was originally sentenced to death two years ago, at the age of 16, for an alleged attempted sexual assault on a male. The execution sentence was handed down by Branch 2 of the Criminal Court in East Azerbaijan province on 20 July 2008.

Following a fight in the countryside outside the Iranian city of Tabriz, with members of a family against which his own family had been feuding for some time, Hamidi was picked up with three friends by the police. The four were told that one of the men from the other family with whom the four were fighting had accused them of an attempted sexual assault. The “testimony” the accuser gave to support this claim was that during the fight his own trousers were 20cm below his wiastline, implying that the four attempted to strip him naked and assault him.

The four accused were arrested based on this allegation and held in Haris Detention Centre for three days. During police interrogations they were tortured and pressured to confess to the crime.

Ebrahim Hamidi signed his confession sheet to stop his torture: he was hanged from his legs and badly beaten. According to his lawyer, and the three friends who witnessed the beatings, he confessed to a crime he did not commit. All four were tried in two consecutive provincial criminal courts and were sentenced to execution.

During their third trial, three of the accused were cleared of all charges but Ebrahim Hamidi was again sentenced to execution.

He was sentenced to die despite the fact that two of the five judges at the hearing on 21 June this year ruled that none of the four accused were guilty of the sexual assault allegations.

Even more astounding, the youth who originally accused the four men of sexual assault has since withdrawn his accusation. On 7 July 2010, he gave recorded testimony to the police that his accusation was false and was given under pressure from his parents. In other words, the accuser admitted that he was lying due to parental pressure.

On top of this, the guilty verdict and execution order was rejected twice by the Supreme Court of Iran – once by Branch 17 and once by Branch 42 – because of shortcomings in the judicial investigation. It ordered a re-examination of the case. Yet the provincial court still insists on executing Ebrahim.

In his report Mr. Mostafaei wrote: “I have asserted in the past that many of execution cases I took on were flawed to the point that an execution verdict couldn’t possibly be issued. This case too, is one of those cases where an innocent person is ordered to be executed.”

Gay Middle East (GME) has interviewed Saghi Ghahraman, CEO of the Canadian-based Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO) about this case. Ms. Ghahraman stated that: “execution is an inhumane and brutal punishment.” She added that this “specific case which is tied, for no reason, to homosexuality”, is completely without foundation and unjust. To Ghahraman, the harsh attitudes towards homosexuality are enough to have any person, whether straight or gay, put to death. This law is not only wrong in condemning to death innocent people but damages families and severely scars whole communities. Ghahraman is deeply alarmed by the execution order for Ebrahim Hamidi. She reiterates that Hamidi is not even “accused of homosexuality, but of sexual harassment based on a false accusation, without any evidence,” by a mere decision of a judge.

To GME this appears as a face saving measure of a flawed judicial procedure, which surely should be repealed by the judiciary of Iran. GME joined IRQO in requesting the judiciary of Iran to annul the verdict. Furthermore, a repeal of the sodomy laws, which are both inadequate and unjust, would benefit Iran as a whole and give it much esteem in the eyes of the international community.

IRQO has reported the case to the Iranian Committee for Human Rights Reporters and to the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

GME has also referred this case to Amnesty International.

Mostafai’s statement: http://www.modafe.com/NewsDetail.aspx?Id=415

Committee for Human Rights Reporters: http://chrr.biz/spip.php?article10187

Mostafaei the lawyer of Hamidi disappears!
GME News Exclusive!

25 July 2010

According to the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, there is no news of Mohammad Mostafaei’s whereabouts since Saturday afternoon. Mostafaei is the revered Iranian human rights lawyer defending Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to death by stoning for alleged adultery. He is also the defence lawyer for Ebrahim Hamidi, an 18 year old youth sentenced to death by hanging, for alleged homosexual assault. Both are believed to be trumped up charges.

Mostafaei’s disappearance follows the arrest of his wife along with her brother. They were detained last night at around 23h. According to Saghi Ghahraman, CEO of IRQO, Mostafaei was summoned to District 2 of Evin Prison’s Sacred Martyr and was interrogated on Saturday July 24. It seems the authorities wanted to know how “blood money” is collected to pay for his young clients who were sentenced to execution. Mustafaei reported on his weblog: http://www.modafe.com/NewsDetail.aspx?Id=428

On Saturday July 24 2010, Mostafaei reported on his facebook page that he was summoned for more interrogation. “After being interrogated by District 2 they called me again and asked me to go and report myself. I’ll go there tomorrow (Sunday) and don’t know what’s going to happen,” he wrote. Apparently on the same day, Saturday, intelligence agents showed up in his office to arrest him, but they didn’t find him there. His wife and her brother were arrested around the block of his office space. There are many comments on his facebook page expressing worry about his mobile phone being switched off and him not being in the office.

According to the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, later on Saturday evening, security agents went to Mostafaei’s office with an arrest warrant issued for him, but he was apparently not there. Saghi Ghahraman stated that this development might affect the cases of both clients (Ashtiani and Hamidi) badly, and may result in the carrying out of execution sentences without a fair retrial, the defendants having been deprived of their defence lawyer. Saghi also called for “trials, transparent court sessions and delivering justice without capital punishment.” She also expressed “that the lawyer and his clients need the international community’s support and urgent attention.”

Latest Update (Unpublished)
By Dan Littauer, Editor of GME and Saghi Ghahraman, CEO of IRQO

During the last week, important changes took place in the initial situation we were dealing with. Mohammad Mostafaei, the lawyer, is in hiding, some of his family are in jail, and he is under pressure by the judicial system to hand himself to the police if he wants his family out of jail.

This situation not only is harmful for him, it also leaves his clients, Ebrahim Hamidi and Sakineh Ashtiani, without a legal representative to try and save them from execution.

At this point, Sakineh Ashtiani has a huge media and international support, and it is unlikely the regime will hang her (at least not for the moment). But Ebrahim has no support whatsoever.

Ebrahim, as you might know from Mostafaei’s letter and GME’s reports, was not at fault, and the plaintiff himself has admitted he lied in accusing him. The last time we heard from Mostafaei was two days before his family’s arrest and him going missing. He wrote on facebook in response to Saghi’s note to him, that he was working on Ebrahim’s case. He also told a friend of Saghi, who is a campaigner against stoning executions, that Ebrahim’s case was already sent to the Supreme Court.

At this point, if the Supreme Court decides to eventually accept the execution order for Ebrahim, the sentence could be carried out in a few days, and there won’t be a way to overturn that decision unless the Chief of the Judiciary himself overturns the verdict.

Saghi contacted some of the lawyers working with Mostafaei and enquired about Ebrahim’s case. She was told that so far, in Mostafaei’s absence, they don’t know whether anyone else is representing him. Saghi has requested a few lawyers in Iran, whom she knows, to see whether they could take his case. As of now, none has.

We were advised by lawyer to organise campaigns for Ebrahim, and to stress to the Iranian government that we want him to have a new and fair trial, or for his case to be dismissed and for him to be released from prison.

More information:

Dan Littauer: 075 75 45 96 33

Peter Tatchell: 0207 403 1790

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