In an interview with Roozonline, the family of death row prisoner Abdolreza Ghanbari said their request for clemency has been rejected by the Amnesty and Clemency Commission, putting Ghanbari in imminent danger of execution.
Ghanbari’s wife, Sakineh Habibi said they had hoped to receive clemency in her husband’s case, but that request has been denied and her husband has officially been notified of the denial of his clemency request.
Abdolreza Ghanbari a high school teacher in Pakdasht and on the faculty of Payamnour university, was arrested on January 4, 2010 at the high school where he teaches.
He was charged and convicted of Moharebeh (enmity against God) and affiliation with the Mojahedin Khalgh Ornanization (MEK/MKO) by Judge Salavati, the presiding judge at Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court.
According to Judiciary law, an Appeals Court does not have the authority to review Moharebeh cases, and the case must be sent to the Supreme Court. Mr. Ghanbari’s case however was sent to Branch 36 of the Appeals Court presided by Judge Zargar instead of being sent to the Supreme Court. Judge Zargar upheld the death sentence of Mr. Ghanbari.
The Supreme Court rejected Ghanbari’s request for an appeal to review his case. He then requested clemency from the Amnesty and Clemency Commission.
Ghanbari’s wife Sakineh Habibi tells Rooze that her husband’s case file was in the Amnesty and Clemency Commission, but, since their rejection of clemency, she doesn’t know where the case has now been sent.
We asked Mrs. Ghanbari to comment on the reports that her husband’s case has been sent to the sentence implementation division. Mrs. Ghanbari said, “We have no news on that, and we don’t know where my husband’s case is now. We could not find any information due to government offices being closed for the Norooz holidays (Iranian New Year). Now that the holidays are over, we will pursue the case.”
She adds, “They have officially informed my husband that his request for clemency has been denied. We were very hopeful that the Clemency and Amnesty Commission would grant my husband clemency because all the charges and accusations against him were completely baseless.
We had hoped that the Commission would grant him his life back, but unfortunately his clemency request was denied. However, I still am hopeful; I will hold on to my hope to the end.
Mrs. Ghanbari describes her husband’s spirits as high and says, “We have visits, his spirits are high and he is still hopeful. For now there is nothing we can do but wait, and this wait is very difficult both for him and for us. God only knows what we are going through now.”
Mrs. Ghanbari continues, “I have been screaming for two years that my husband has no affiliation with the Mojahedin Khalgh. I say again, my husband is a teacher and a civil activist who has served his country for years.
I don’t know on what grounds, based on what guilt, he should be sacrificed. On one hand they (the Judiciary) accuse him of affiliation with Mojahedin ,and on the other hand the Mojahedin are exploiting his situation. All of this, while they (MEK) and the authorities, know very well that my husband absolutely has no affiliation with this organization, and that all his charges are false and baseless.”
She adds, “Even with all the pain that we have suffered during this, and despite the fact that his clemency has been denied, we are still hopeful that my husband is granted his life back so he can continue to serve the children of this country.”
Previously, in an interview conducted by Rooz with Mrs. Ghanbari, she said, “My husband is an educator who has served in this capacity for 15 years. God will take care of us. From day one, we have denied all of charges against him. My husband is apolitical, and has no affiliation with any political group, party or organization. He is a teacher who’s work is to educate children.
He may have had some cultural demands, but never was a political activist. Reviewing his activities, the officials can simply see that his charges are totally baseless. If he had any political activities in the last 15 years, someone should have noticed it before. How is it that only in the last two years they are making such accusations?”
Responding to the question whether an email and a phone call from the Mojahedin Khalgh Organization was used as evidence to convict her husband and issue a death sentence for him, she said, “Yes, we all know that an email account is like a mail box; any one can write anything and drop it in the box.
Just because an email is sent to someone or to my husband, does it mean that my husband or that person is guilty and should they be punished just for having received an email? Is this concrete evidence?
Regarding the phone call, I questioned my husband, he said, on Ashura day when he had gone out with our daughter he received a phone call asking him about the protests and clashes on the streets. But my husband disconnected the call and even removed the SIM card out of his phone so they couldn’t call him back. Would he have done such thing if he was affiliated with them?
If my husband wanted to cooperate with them, he would have not hung up on them nor would he have removed his SIM card. He had gone out with our daughter who was eight years old at the time. This is his only crime that may end up costing him his life.”
Mr. Ghanbari had a court appointed defense attorney at his initial trial. One of his former cellmates told Rooz about Ghanbari’s court procedure and said, “Mr. Ghanbari was arrested at the high school in Pakdasht where he was a teacher.
He agreed with their request to cooperate with them, participate in an open court, and give false testimony and exaggerated allegations against himself.
On February 28, 2010, they took him to court along with others, including Morteza Simyari and Payam Fanaian. They presented them with the questions that the judge was going to ask the next day during their trial. They also provided them with the answers they should give, telling them this would reduce their penalties.
They were also told not to hire their own attorneys and to accept the court appointed attorney, saying that this would also have an impact on the penalties issued and reduce the sentences. They were video taped during this session.
The next day they were put on trial in the courtroom of Judge Salavati and all the defendants gave testimony as agreed upon before.”
Mr. Ghanbari is currently incarcerated in Ward 350 of Evin prison.