On August 1st 2009 the Islamic Regime brought more than 100 “accused” to what can only be described as a “public proceeding” which the Islamic Regime called a “trial.” The accused were charged with acting against national security, being in contact with foreign media and anti-Islamic Regime groups abroad and participating in illegal demonstrations etc...
There are a number of things that need to be kept in mind when dealing with these so called “trials” and the process leading up to it. Although according to the Iran’s Judiciary spokesperson Ali Reza Jamshidi close to 4000 individuals were arrested during the recent protests, only about 100 of them have been actually brought to some sort of public proceeding, which the Islamic Regime called a “trial.” There are still 100’s of individuals in custody, without even formally being charged with a criminal offence.
Most of the protestors were arrested by either Sepah or Basij forces who are under the direct control of the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Those arrested were taken to police stations or various prisons including the Evin Prison and the Kehrzik Camp. There have been wide spread reports of physical torture and rape in prisons, to such a degree that tens of individuals lost their lives under torture, especially in the notorious Kehrzik Camp.
After being subjected to torture for days or weeks, some individuals were released without ever being charged with a criminal offence. This is how the Islamic Regime’s judicial system operates, individuals are arrested and tortured without charge and then released, without anyone ever being accountable for these actions.
There is another group of individuals who having been tortured and perhaps forced into confessions were granted outrageously high amounts of bail, which was impossible to meet for some of the accused and their families. The underlying concept of bail is to allow the accused to remain at large until his case is dealt with in a court of law. Bail is granted in cases where there is no risk of flight, re-offending or danger to society.
The general principle is that the bail should be set at an amount that is onerous, however within the capacity of the accused and his sureties to post. The financial circumstance of the sureties (individuals posting bail) are always taken into consideration when granting bail. In the case of Islamic Regime Revolutionary Courts however, the financial situation of sureties are not taken into account and a random and extremely high amount of bail is generally set for political prisoners. A bail that is impossible to meet is really no bail at all. In reality unreasonably high amount of bail is a tool used by the Revolutionary Courts to keep political prisoners in prison.
There are also the hundreds of individuals who are still in custody, who may or may not have been charged with a recognized criminal offence, who are serving pre-trial custody, without even having been formally charged or brought to court, to at least deal with the bail issue. There is no information about when or if these individuals will be brought to trial or released. This is the legal and judicial system of the Islamic Regime, where innocent people are arrested without reasonable and probable grounds, are tortured in order to force confessions, are murdered under torture or if they are really lucky granted bail that they cannot meet.
Public Proceedings (“Trials”)
Then of course we have the “lucky few” who are granted “trials,” I use the term very loosely as these proceedings are anything but trials, as we in Canada or anywhere else in the Civilized World understand the term. These proceedings are political shows, which may very well be worth the price of admission but they are by no means “trials.”
These show “trials” are being taped at least partially and televised on the official Islamic Regime TV broadcasts. On August 1st 2009, which was the first day of these “trials” a video broadcast of the trial showed around 100 accused all seated in court, with guards on either side. The prosecutor read the allegations against the individuals which consisted of numerous offences including acting against national security, Defence lawyers were nowhere to be seen although it is my understanding that they may have been present.
As a criminal defence lawyer two main concerns have arisen out of these sham “trials:”
Given the reports of wide spread torture and rape in Islamic Regime Prisons; the so called “confessions” have no credibility and should be considered void. It is almost guaranteed that any confessions made were made without the presence of a defence lawyer and under physical torture.
2. Concept of Self Incrimination
During these sham “trials” we have seen at least two of the accused Ali Abtahi and Mohammad Atrianfar take the stand and make confessions. This was done on the very first day of trial before the prosecutors started presenting their evidence.
In Criminal Trials in Canada an individual is considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. It is the job of the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the guilt of the accused. Therefore in a criminal trial the prosecutor must present its case first. Once the prosecutor’s case is completed, defence may decide to present evidence on behalf of the accused, however the defence will only introduce evidence to support a DEFENCE, not evidence that is incriminating.
During this process the accused does not have to take the stand at any time or to incriminate himself/herself. At no point during a trial will the accused take the stand and confess, unless he decides at some point he forgoes the process of trial and simply plead guilty.
In case of the Islamic Regime sham “trials” of course everything works completely backward and we see individuals taking the stand on the first day of trial before the prosecutor has presented its case and confessing.
This goes against due process and the concept of a fair trial. Anything after that can only be a political show for the benefit of the International Community and the Islamic Regime’s sorry attempt to convince the International Community that there is such a thing as rule of law and due process in the Islamic Regime in Iran.
By: Sayeh Hassan