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Source: IranWire

Jul 28, 2023

Judge Ebrahim Ramezani: A Rubber Stamp for Violating Human Rights


Judge Ebrahim Ramezani, presiding judge of Branch 4 of the Revolutionary Court of Appeals in the city of Birjand and a cleric described by former prisoners as “extremely fanatical and narrow-minded,” plays an active role in violating human rights in the Iranian province of South Khorasan.

Prisoners of conscience in this province call him the “Rubber Stamp” because he upholds most verdicts against political prisoners. Little information is available about Judge Ramezani but, in this report, IranWire uncovers a part of his record by speaking to former political prisoners in South Khorasan.

Despite international pressure, entreaties and outcries, the execution machine of the Islamic Republic rolls on and has even picked up speed. According to human rights organizations, at least 354 people were executed in Iran in the first six months of 2023, compared to 261 in the first six months of 2022. In just the last month, around 48 people were executed, the highest level per capita in the world.

According to a political prisoner in Ferdows, a small town in the northeastern province of South Khorasan, four of these 48 execution were carried out in Ferdows Prison and all four death sentences were signed by Judge Ramezani.

“Almost every death sentence issued in this province has been endorsed by Judge Ramezani,” a former political prisoner in Ferdows Prison, who wishes to remain anonymous, tells IranWire. “Among the prisoners, he is known for issuing unjust and unfair verdicts. But his crimes have been overlooked because disadvantaged prisoners mostly do not talk about the injustice done to them.”

Deceptive Appearances

The former political prisoner tells IranWire that Judge Ramezani gives defendants a favorable impression when they first appear before him. Another political prisoners confirms this and tells IranWire that Ramezani treats defendants in an agreeable way and wins their trust.

A civil rights activist, who has encountered Ramezani during the proceedings of a death penalty case, says: “I remember when I, and the wife and daughter of a prisoner who had been sentenced to death went to Branch 4 of Birjand Revolutionary Court of Appeals.

After we left the court, the wife and the daughter of this poor guy were saying how kind the judge had been. In the end, when the verdict was sent for execution and they saw that Ramezani was one of the judges that had endorsed the verdict, they could not believe it.”

According to civil rights activists in Birjand, Ebrahim Ramezani is also a judge at the Special Court for Clerics. One activist tells IranWire that the cases of a number of Sunni clergymen who had been arrested in the past few years in Birjand and other cities in South Khorasan were handled by him.

According to this activist, in one case, Ramezani not only sentenced a Sunni cleric of various crimes, but also wanted to issue a verdict to confiscate his properties and assets. The cleric’s lawyer objected, however, and the case was sent to the Special Court for Clerics in Mashhad. “Ramezani and his deputies Arabzadeh and Mahdavian have been involved in convicting a number of Sunni religious figures in South Khorasan,” says a former prisoner at Ferdows Prison.

A Sunni prisoner, who has been an inmate at Birjand Prison, tells IranWire that, besides being a judge at Birjand Revolutionary Court of Appeals, Ramezani has also worked as a “special examining magistrate” for the Intelligence Organization of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC-IO) and, for many years, he interrogated detainees and extracted confessions from them.

“I talked with the judges a lot and often managed to handle them with jokes and laughter,” says this prisoner. “They couldn’t convict me because they could not prove a charge against me but, from the very first, Judge Ramezani started with the assumption that ‘you are a Sunni fanatic and are in touch with networks such as Kalemeh [a Persian-speaking satellite TV for Iranian Sunnis based in London]’ and brought the security agencies into my case.”

The Case of Hamid Reza Adelifar

Hamid Reza Adelifar is an employer, a producer of saffron and a blogger in the city of Ferdows. He is a political prisoner with monarchist leanings who has been arrested and imprisoned several times in recent years.

Ramezani’s Branch 4 of the Revolutionary Court of Appeals has upheld a three-year prison sentence and 40 lashes for Adelifar.

He Adelifar had been sentenced to nine months of prison for “spreading propaganda against the state,” 18 months of prison and a three million toman fine for “publishing lies on cyberspace” and another 9 months of prison, lashes and a 3.375 million tomans fine for keeping 7.5L of alcoholic drinks.

Earlier, in 2016, Adelifar had been arrested by security forces and, on July 22, 2017, was sentenced to two years in prison “for spreading lies and disturbing the public mind” and “insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic.” Eighteen months of this sentence was suspended for five years. Before this sentence, Adelifar had been released from prison after serving six months.

Besides upholding the verdict of the lower court, a source close to Adelifar tells IranWire, Judge Ramezani also announced that the 18-month prison sentence from 2017 that had been suspended must now be served.

The Case of Amir Mehdi Jalayeri

Amir Mehdi Jalayeri, a blogger and social media activist in Birjand, was another case that was handled by Judge Ebrahim Ramezani. This 40-year-old political activist is an architect and was the administrator of a number of Telegram channels, including the Will of South Khorasan and Alan News. He was sent to prison in September 2017.

And since 2019, Jalayeri has been arrested five more times and has been sentenced to various prison terms: eight months in 2016 for “disturbing the public mind,” two years in 2017 for “disturbing public mind”, three years in 2019 on the same charge and eight years and 10 months in 2020 for “propaganda against the state” and “insulting the leader and the founder of the Islamic Republic.”

He was also secretary-general of South Khorasan’s Will of the Iranian Nation Party, a reformist political party that was officially founded in 2001, formed by students of the University of Tehran's School of Law and Political Science in early 1990s. His activities on social media were the basis of charges brought against him by the IRGC-IO in a complaint to Birjand Revolutionary Court.

In early 2017, Jalayeri was sentenced to two years in prison by Judge Mehdi Shiri of Branch 102 of the Criminal Court. Upon appeal, according to a report by the Iran Prison Atlas, his case was sent to Branch 4 of South Khorasan Revolutionary Court of Appeals where Judge Ebrahim Ramezani and his deputy Mohammad Vali Abodollahi upheld the sentence.

The indictment against Jalayeri states: “Whatever he has published only causes the people to lose trust in the foundations of the regime. They have nothing to do with political criticisms but, under in the guise of political criticism, they express the same intents as the groups hostile to the regime.”

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