Rights group calls out Iran over Kurdish prisoner execution

Heidar Ghorbani was executed in Iran without giving his family or lawyer prior notice

The Iranian flag flatters behind the fence of the Iranian embassy in Berlin, Germany, EPA
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Iran has executed a Kurdish man for armed rebellion despite international pressure for his life to be spared, activists said on Monday.

Heidar Ghorbani's trial has been criticised as unfair with confessions allegedly obtained through force.

Ghorbani was executed on Sunday morning in Sanandaj prison in western Iran's Kurdistan province, the Oslo-based Iran Human Rights NGO said. Neither his family nor his lawyer had been informed, it said.

UN human rights experts had in September urged Iran to repeal his death sentence over “serious concerns” that he did not receive a fair trial and was tortured during pretrial detention.

Amnesty International had also called for his life to be spared, saying that there had been “numerous violations” in his trial, which it said was “grossly unfair".

Campaign groups say that Ghorbani was convicted and sentenced to death last year in connection with the 2016 killing of three men linked to the pro-government Basij militia. He had been jailed since October that year.

He was convicted of providing transport and logistical support for the killings. But the court verdict acknowledged he had never been armed.

Videos posted on social media showed crowds gathering on Sunday for a memorial ceremony for Ghorbani in his home town of Kamyaran in western Iran, chanting “martyrs don't die".

“Heidar Ghorbani was subjected to torture and sentenced to death without due process and any evidence against him,” said Iran Human Rights director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam.

“Heidar's death penalty is unlawful even under the Islamic republic's own laws.”

The group said his case was still with the Supreme Court and his relatives had not been warned in advance of the execution and merely pointed towards his grave after it was carried out, it said.

Amnesty International had also previously raised concerns about Ghorbani's appearance after his arrest in a so-called documentary broadcast in 2017 by Iran's state-run English language channel Press-TV about the killings.

Activists have repeatedly complained over Iranian state media's continued practice of broadcasting “confessions” from convicts under the guise of interviews, fearing that they were obtained through torture.

Updated: December 20, 2021, 2:34 PM
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