Iranian lawyers who say they are representing an Iranian Kurdish dissident facing a death sentence have criticized authorities for transferring him to a prison near Tehran, far from his home.
Exiled Iranian rights group Campaign for the Defense of Political and Civil Prisoners published a statement from the three lawyers about the case of Ramin Hossein Panahi on Wednesday. In it, Hossein Ahmadiniaz, Osman Mozayan and Maziyar Tataei said they learned from Panahi’s family that he had been transferred Monday from a prison in the northwestern city of Sanandaj to Rajaei Shahr prison in Karaj, on the western outskirts of the Iranian capital.
Transferred without consent
The lawyers said Panahi’s transfer to Karaj, a more than 500 kilometer drive from his hometown, happened without his consent and prior notice to his family. They said judicial authorities who carried out the transfer violated regulations that say prisoners should be detained near to home and family unless they request a transfer to another location.
The regulations of Iran’s Prisons Organization say authorities can initiate a process to transfer an inmate between prisons if the inmate’s presence in the original prison poses a threat to the host city and if necessary approvals are obtained from senior judicial officials. But the three lawyers said they saw no signs of such a transfer process being followed in Panahi’s case when they reviewed relevant documents and met with a senior official of Kurdistan province, whose capital is Sanandaj.
Iranian authorities had no immediate comment in state media about the move of Panahi, whose case has drawn global attention and appeals from international rights activists to Tehran to annul his death sentence.
Signs of torture
Panahi was arrested in June 2017 for belonging to Iranian Kurdish nationalist group Komala and allegedly drawing a weapon against Iranian security forces operating in northwestern Iran’s predominantly ethnic Kurdish region. He was sentenced to death by a Sanandaj Revolutionary court in January.
International rights group Amnesty International has said Panahi was sentenced after what it called a “grossly unfair trial” that lasted less than an hour. It quoted Panahi’s family members as saying he appeared in court with torture marks on his body and was denied an investigation into accusations that he had been forced into confessing to the crime of taking up arms against the state.
This report was produced in collaboration with VOA’s Persian Service.