The Iranian judiciary does not allow protesters and dissidents to choose their own lawyers during trials, which could even carry the death sentence for the accused.
Under Iranian law, persons charged with crimes against national security can only be represented in court by lawyers who have the “certification” of the Chief Justice himself. Almost all dissidents are accused of acting alongside other crimes against national security, such as insulting the Supreme Leader or illegal assembly.
The restriction also applies to protesters charged with “corruption on earth” or “waging war against God,” both of which carry the death penalty. Iran’s Revolutionary Courts have sentenced more than 50 protesters to death on such charges since November.
Two protesters, Mohsen Shekari and Majidreza Rahnavard, who were hanged in December, were stripped of the right to choose their own lawyer. They were represented at their trials by court-appointed attorneys. The two young men appeared to meet their lawyers on the day of their trial in court, where the lawyers’ role was limited to maintaining the appearance of a fair trial.
the iranian judicial system, controlled by the supreme leaderoversees both judges and prosecutors and works closely with security and intelligence services.
Families of some of the protesters who are on trial allege that the lawyers representing their loved ones made little effort to present an adequate defense and that their only testimony in court was what was dictated to them by the judiciary and security officials, to ensure a predetermined outcome. The hanging of the two young men was should scare people and keeping them away from the protests, the families and others say.
Mohsen Shekari was hanged in December for allegedly using a knife during protests
Mashallah Karami, whose son Mohammad-Mehdi Karami was sentenced to death in Alborz province for alleged involvement in the killing of a member of the Basij militia told the newspaper Etemad recently that for a week after his verdict was announced, he tried to contact his son’s court-appointed “approved counsel” to appeal, but never received a response from him. “The court-appointed attorney refused to give me the address of his office to go and tell him what my son told me because he used it in his defense.”
“It’s a matter of life and death for a young man. Shouldn’t the accused’s family be allowed to have their own lawyer?” Karami, who says his son swore his innocence, said.
Nemat Ahmadi, a lawyer and law professor, told the Arman-e Emruz newspaper in December that some of the “confirmed” lawyers, even if appointed by the court rather than the accused, work for extremely high fees. “We heard that recently [such] The attorney had demanded $250,000 from the defendant’s family,” he said.
Ahmadi also pointed out that at a recent trial, one of those lawyers, when asked if he had spoken to his client, told the judge that he had met his client, who was in the hospital for “half an hour” before the trial .
Just a week ago, defender Amir Raesian announced that the authorities had finally accepted him and his colleague Roza Etemad-Ansari as representatives the imprisoned dissident Toomaj Salehi and that after reading the case files, they would meet with Toomaj.
The lawyer’s announcement comes amid international pressure on the Islamic Republic to release Toomaj, who was arrested in late October. The 32-year-old popular rapper could face the death penalty on vague charges under Islamic law, “corruption on earth” and “waging war against God.”
“This is a first and important milestone,” said MP Ye-One Rhie, who recently accepted the rapper’s political endorsement. tweeted about the new development in the case after the announcement.