Yesterday,I took over Amir's case who was arrested at the age of 16 for alleged first degree murder and sentenced to death. After reviewing the file and due to the numerous errors, I requested a correction according to the article 18 of Public and Revolutionary Courts Procedures from the Judge.
On November 7, 2006, around 11:30 am, the defendant was at the bakery located on Azadegan Street in the city of Shiraz with his two friends Mr. Hassan Mohammadi and Ali Soleymani when accidentally, they ran into the victim: Mr. Mohssen Kazemi, and his friend, Mr. javad Vaziri. They engaged in a verbal argument that was completely childish and unintentional and the argument lead to a physical dispute. At this point, Amir interfered and tried to scare off the other group with the use of a knife borrowed from his friend: Ali Soleymani, and held the knife in case it was needed for self defense. It seems the victim started to badger the defendant, who was younger than him, for no apparent reasons and provoked him. In order to scare off the victim to leave, Amir showed off the knife. Unfortunately the victim did not leave the premises and hit the defendant on the face. In response, Amir hit the victim with the knife's handle, hoping that he would leave. However, the victim stayed and due to the chaos and while the victim was walking towards the defendant with the intention of hitting him again, the defendant moved the knife towards the victim and the knife hit the victim on the right side of his chest. The defendant panicked and fled the scene and discussed the matter with his father the same day and then turned himself in to the authorities.
The defendant would have never thought that four of the five Judges of the privincial Penal Court would find him guilty who sentenced him to death without smallest consideration of the circumstances and his maturaity leval as an under age child.
Nevertheless, the verdict is delivered and now the case has been brought to the attention of the Head of the Judiciary to be carried out, with no regards to my client's request for appeal.
The following points are some issues in the case against my client which would make the death sentence problematic and questionable:
1) According to one of the advisors of the 5th district court, my client at the time was only 16 years old and lacked the mental capacity of the consequences of him losing control. The advisor's opinion merits consideration. Amir should be examined by the State's medical examiners to evaluate his mental state during the conflict and at the time he committed the crime.
There are no precise age limits mentioned in the Islamic penal code, and it's based on the religious maturity. In other instances of the law, the lack of maturity has been discussed for a reduced sentencing, and should have been considered in the case of the defendant instead of rushing to a guilty verdict on the same day. In fact the ruling and the sentencing of this case was performed in a hasty manner and therefore does not comply with the Islamic Penal Codes.
2) Due to the financial situation of his family, the defendant couldn't afford a better representation of experts in such cases and the state assigned defense attorney didn't properly consider all the aspects of the case regarding the laws for the minors and he did not bring up the suspicious nature of the defendant's mental state, probably due to his own poor health. The defendant is known to lose control of his actions under stress which should have been considered to allow an examination by the state's medical experts to prove temporary loss of sanity.
In addition, the defendant was prescribed heavy doses of sedatives while he was held in Nezam prison (the special prison for offenders under the age of 18) and his medical file is also available, but no attention was made to this fact during the court proceedings which renders the ruling unjust.
Although the defendant is remorseful, the reality is that the murder was accidental and unintentional and he was not mentally in control of his actions.
3) According to eyewitnesses, when the victim was sprawled on the ground, there were many people around and near by, but none helped taking the victim to a hospital or nearest medical facilities until an ambulance arrives 30 minutes later to take Mohsen (the victim) to the hospital where he passed away. The district attorney and the honorable judges should have investigated the cause of death closely, since if the victim died due to the loss of blood which was caused by the delayed medical attention and his injuries were not fatal by nature, then the defendant should not have been on trial for murder, and the ruling should be considered unreasonable and therefore illegal.
4) The amendment B of the article 206 of the Islamic Penal Code states that first degree murder is an intentional act that is premeditated which result in death. However, the fact and details of the case clearly demonstrate that my client did not this act intentionally and knowingly.
If that were to be the case the victim would have been stabbed at the heart directly to cause immediate death.
This unfortunate accident that landed the defendant in jail and the families mourning was not a premeditated criminal act and only due to the victim's persistent behavior.
With attention to the discrepancies in the case,
I hope that my client's file would be reviewed and with the grace of God a 16 year old child's life would be spared.
Mohammad Mostafaei Attorney for Amir Amrollahi
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