Jailed Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who faces execution for converting from Islam to Christianity, will be soon without a lawyer as his defense attorney has been sentenced to nine years imprisonment.
Judge Salavati has upheld the nine-year prison sentence for prominent lawyer and distinguished human rights activist Mohammad Ali Dadkhah. Dadkhah told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that he was only informed of the decision when he went to court to follow up on a client’s case.
“I went to the Revolutionary Court on Saturday morning [April 28] to defend one of my clients, Arjang Davoodi. The branch Judge told me that I was not allowed to defend my client. He said, ‘You yourself will have to go to prison.’ He said, ‘Your sentence has been finalized by the appeals court,’ and he told me to expect service of the ruling. According to this ruling, I have been sentenced to nine years in prison, ten years’ ban on legal practice, ten years’ ban on teaching, cash fines, and flogging. It appears that the flogging sentence will be converted to a cash fine,” Dadkhah told the Campaign.
The ruling, which was upheld by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court, was not actually presented to Dadkhah. “Unfortunately, during recent years it has become standard procedure for the Revolutionary Court not to present the suspect with a ruling. They only announce the sentence and now I expect to be served and go to prison,” he said, adding that Judge Salavati informed him of the ruling verbally.
Related Article: Lawyer’s ‘Nationalism’ on Par with Apostasy Says Deputy Prosecutor
On 20 May 2011 Branch 15 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court tried Mohammad Ali Dadkhah on the charges of “interviews with foreign media,” “membership in the Defenders of Human Rights Center,” and “representing clients in the Isfahan Metro case.” In July 2011, a lower court sentenced him to nine years in prison and a ten-year ban on his legal practice and teaching.
Mohammad Ali Dadkhah emphasized that he does not consider his lower court ruling fair:
I have not done anything wrong. I am a lawyer who loves my country and defends the rights of the people of our land. If they prefer a humiliated, intimidated, desperate young lawyer who has never tasted freedom, I do not regard this individual a lawyer. What good is a knife that cannot cut? A lawyer must be brave, logical, and law-abiding, and I have tried to be that way. This is why I have never been summoned by the Bar Association Court.
Presently, according to Judge Salavati, his lower court ruling has been upheld in its entirety by an appeals court and he will soon be served with the ruling.
Mohammad Ali Dadkhah is a prominent lawyer who has defended many political activists, students, and prisoners of conscience such as Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, Ebrahim Yazdi, and Youcef Naderkhani, a Christian pastor sentenced to death for apostasy.
On 7 July 2009, security forces raided Mohammad Ali Dadkhah’s offices in Tehran and claimed to have found guns and drugs on the premises. His offices were sealed, he and several of his colleagues were arrested, and a judicial case against him commenced. Mohamamd Ali Dadkhah repeatedly stated that the discovered guns and drugs did not belong to him.
Asked whether he will appeal his case to the Supreme Court, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah said, “I will not object anymore, as I consider this ruling against justice and fairness. What right does the Revolutionary Court have to ban me from practicing law and teaching? These decisions are only within the jurisdiction of the Bar Association Court, and not the Revolutionary Court. But, unfortunately, they do as they please. This ruling is imposed. Even so, I will not escape and I will not leave my country. I will go to prison. Either I will come out, or I will die there.”
Dadkhah explained to the Campaign that his actions and his work did not merit the charges leveled against him. “No credible evidence about the charges was presented at all. First, they planted drugs and guns in Rad Legal Institute, where my offices are located. Then they raided my offices and said that the items belonged to me. I said no, they did not belong to me. Then they said that I had acted against national security through my interviews and speeches. But most of my interviews and lectures were about Iranian culture, Nowruz, Cyrus, and about Iranian history. All my speeches were in the realm of my expertise which is international law and Iranian culture. Therefore they did not include any of the charges they had raised.”
Last year, after his lower court trial, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah told the Campaign, “They told me that my actions smell of nationalism. It was the Prosecutor’s deduction that nationalistic activities amount to apostasy. I told him that I am no expert in this area, but of course I have always defended our cultural heritage, such as Nowruz, to the best of my ability. The prophet of Islam said: ‘Love for the land comes from the belief in God.’ Which one should I accept now and what should I do?”
“Many people told me during this time that they could securely take me out of the country. But I will not run away; I will stay … I stand by what I have said and its consequences. They can come and take me; I am ready. My life is not worth much vis a vis this country’s advancement,” said Dadkhah.
He also expressed regret about his inability to defend his client last Saturday. “My client, Arjang Davoodi, has been sentenced to death on moharebeh charges. I had gone to defend him, but it was not possible, so I returned,” said Dadkhah. (Iran Human Rights)