IRAN: WRITER SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR APOSTASY
June 20, 2015: A 23-year-old former nuclear physics student, Hesameddin Farzizadeh, was sentenced to death for apostasy by the Criminal Court of Meshkinshahr in Ardebil province, reported the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC). He was arrested in a raid on his house in November 2014 by plainclothes Ministry of Intelligence (MOI) agents and held incommunicado at the MOI facility in the town for several days before being transferred to Meshkinshahr Prison.
The charge of apostasy stems from a book written by Farzizadeh, entitled āFrom Islam to Islamā, in which Farzizadeh examines the history of Shiāa Islam and raises questions about certain facets of Shiāa ideology. For instance, in his book Farzizadeh reportedly questions the existence of the Twelfth Imam, who, according to Shiāa theology, is a messianic figure who is to eventually reappear as a latter-day savior of humanity.
In addition to his death sentence, Farzizadeh was also sentenced to seven years of imprisonment and 74 lashes. These sentences rise from charges of insulting the Prophet Mohammad, the Shiāa Imams, and Ayatollah Khomeini.Ā
Farzizadehās sentence does not only violate basic international human rights norms. The ruling from the Criminal Court of Meshkinshahr appears to violate Iranās domestic criminal procedure laws, as well. Under Article 4 of the Law to Establish Public and Revolutionary Courts, only Provincial Criminal Courts have the jurisdiction to hear capital cases such as apostasy, whereas the Meshkinshahr Criminal Court is a county-level judicial body. (Sources: IHRDC, 20/06/2015)