Iran has carried out today the death sentence of the Kurdish political prisoner Heydar Ghorbani in northwestern Sanandaj, Kurdistan province.
Saleh Nikbakht, Ghorbani’s lawyer, told the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) that the political prisoner had been executed at 04:00 local time in Sanandaj Central Prison.
He added that prison officials neither informed him nor the prisoner’s family before the execution.
Reportedly, a group of civilians have gathered before Ghorbani’s house in Kamyaran – his hometown – in Kurdistan province to express their condolences, despite the security atmosphere in the city.
Ghorbani’s lawyer told the KHRN: “After a long time, Heydar Ghorbani called me yesterday at 19:53 [local time] from Sanandaj prison. He was still hoping his death sentence would be overturned and had no idea he might be executed. The sentence was executed secretly without informing him, his family, and me, as the lawyer in the case.”
Nikbakht said the sentence was carried out while he had resent a request for retrial under Article 477 of the Iranian Code of Criminal Procedure to the Supreme Court three months ago. The Supreme Court had requested in a letter to the Justice Department of Kurdistan province to re-examine the case and inform the court and Ghorbani’s family on the outcome.
Nikbakht continued: “Heydar Ghorbani’s death sentence was carried out while we had not yet received any response from the Justice Department of Kurdistan province. Considering the basic legal mistakes in the case that led to the issuance of the death sentence, as well as the request of more than a thousand civilians in Kamyaran and more than 50 Sunni clerics and imams to the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic [of Iran] to revoke Heydar Ghorbani’s death sentence, we were hopeful that the Supreme Court would overturn the sentence.”
In a previous interview with the KHRN, Nikhbakht had expressed concerns about the possible execution of his client.
He had said: “The Islamic Revolutionary Court of Sanandaj has sentenced Heydar Ghorbani to death on charges of armed insurrection. The condition for committing the crime of armed insurrection is membership in an armed group and the use of weapons against the Islamic Republic [of Iran]. My client has not made any confession in this regard, even in the difficult and painful circumstances he has experienced. The only evidence brought forward to prove this accusation is the claims of the offices of the intelligence ministry in Sanandaj and Kamyaran.”
In recent months, with the increasing probability of Ghorbani’s execution, hundreds of residents of the city signed a petition calling on Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, to use his legal authority to prevent the execution.
Earlier, 50 Sunni clerics and imams in Kurdistan province had written a similar letter to the Supreme Leader, calling for the revocation of Ghorbani’s death sentence.
Security forces had arrested Heydar Ghorbani, a resident of Kamyaran, in October 2016. They interrogated and tortured him for several months in the detention centre of the Ministry of Intelligence in Sanandaj to make forced confessions.
In March 2018, Iranian state-owned Press TV published the forced confessions.
Additionally, on 7 October 2019, Branch 1 of the Criminal Court of Sanandaj sentenced Ghorbani to 90 years in prison and 200 lashes.
In February 2020, Branch 1 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj – presided over by Judge Saeidi – sentenced Ghorbani to death on charges of “armed insurrection” through “membership in the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KDPI)”.
On 5 August 2020, Branch 27 of the Supreme Court upheld the ruling, and a month later, rejected the prisoner’s appeal for a retrial.