August 9, 2014

Press Release: Human Rights Activists in Iran says “Soheil Arabi, an Iranian citizen accused of insulting the Prophet, has been sentenced to death. The association described the verdict as unjust and called for the immediate repeal of the verdict.

One of the three attorneys of Mr. Arabi discussed this issue with the Human Rights Activists Association in Iran and reported that Tehran’s Penal Court (Branch #76) attended by five judges on August 8th of 2014. After considering Mr. Arabi’s case, 3 judges voted in favor and 2 voted against the conviction under Article 262 of the Penal Code. They sentenced him to death with the charge of “insults to the Prophet.

According to the prisoner’s lawyer, Mr. Arabi denied his confessions and emphasized that his confessions have been acquired during interrogation under pressure. However, the judges rejected the issue of “denial of Confession” and accepted the confessions obtained during interrogation.

Mr. Sohei Arabi has 30 years of age and has been arrested in November 2013 by Revolutionary Forces (Sepah-E-Pasdaran) and has been under arrest and interrogations in Section A of Revolutionary Forces prison for about two months. He has been held accountable for the materials published in eight Facebook pages.

Mr. Arabi’s legal attorneys reported to the Human Rights’ Activists Association in Iran that they are planning to submit their appeal request next week before the appeal due date of September 19th. According to his legal attorneys, considering that Mr. Arabi’s alleged insults have not been intentional, it is expected to reduce his sentence based on the Article 263 of the Penal Code.

Human Rights’ Activists Association in Iran has expressed deep concerns about issuing death sentence for the cases dealing with the freedom of speech and expression of opinion whilst death sentence may be only justified for the cases of genocide. These lawyers highlighted that issuing death sentence for Mr. Arabi is a clear example of Iranian government’s negligence of human rights in Iran and requested the immediate release of Mr. Arabi.

Moreover, the Human Rights’ Activists Association has been notified of a couple of other legal cases against Mr. Arabi in other local courts (different from the court that issued Mr. Arabi’s death sentence). However, the contents of these cases are similar, and he has been tried in these courts only because of the issue of judicial jurisdiction.

In one of these cases in the court of Government Employees, Mr. Arabi has been charged with insulting the head of the University of Alameh. In another case, he has been charged with insulting Hadad Adel, the former chair of the Islamic Parliament of Iran and sentenced to five million Rials fine and 30 lashes. This case has been now referred to the Court of Appeals after receiving Mr. Arabi’s lawyers’ protests.

In another case in the revolutionary court branch #15, Mr. Arabi was charged with “insulting the supreme leader” and “propaganda against the regime” and sentenced to the highest penalties by Judge Salavati, two years in prison because of “insulting the supreme leader” and one year in prison for “propaganda against the regime”.

In the fourth prosecution, a legal case has been opened against Mr. Arabi with charges of “insulting the president” in the General and Criminal Court of Tehran.

The Human Rights’ Activists Association in Iran has condemned the death sentence and other verdicts against Mr. Arabi and believes they are all unjust. This association calls upon the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran to pay specific attention to this case, which is mainly associated with charges related to the expression of opinion and freedom of speech. They are asking the Rapporteur to use his outmost capacities to save Mr. Arabi from the danger of execution. It should be noted that the implementation of arbitrary executions in Iran has increased at least fifty percent, particularly in the month of August.

Secretary of Human Rights Activists in Iran
9 August 2014