Iran’s Judiciary will soon carry out the finger amputation sentence for three men in Urmia, northwestern Iran, Kurd human rights groups said. According to the report, the finger amputation sentences, confirmed by the Supreme Court on May 10, have now been sent to the Urmia Judiciary’s Implementation Office for execution.
The 13th Branch of the Supreme Court confirmed the finger amputation sentence for Hadi Rostami, Mehdi Shahivand, and Mehdi Sharifian. They were arrested by the Urmia Intelligence Department in 2015 and after four years in prison, were sentenced by the 1st Branch of the Special Children and Youth Criminal Court to finger amputation for four counts of theft.
There are ambiguities surrounding the ages of the three men. According to legal documents published by the Human Rights News Agency, Hadi Rostami is 34, Mehdi Shahivand is 42 and Mehdi Sharifian is 36. However, they were tried by a children’s court and according to Mizan News Agency, affiliated with the regime’s Judiciary, the three men are “over 20” which probably means they were minors when detained four years ago.
The three men were sentenced according to article 278 of the Islamic Penal Code which calls for “amputation of the full length of four fingers of the right hand of the thief in such a manner that the thumb and palm of the hand remain.”
According to the Human Rights News Agency, Hadi Rostami said in court that he was tortured to accept a theft he did not carry out in Bandar-e Anzali, northern Iran. He also said that he accepted theft charges in Ardebil in northwestern Iran because he was afraid of telling the truth.
On June 22, Rostami who was detained in the quarantine of Urmia Prison, self-harmed after the amputation sentence was announced for implementation to the prison, the Hengaw Human Rights group said. He was taken to the hospital.
Brutal sentences for petty crimes
Though Iranian officials are involved in huge known embezzlement and corruption cases, Iran continues to hand down brutal sentences to petty thieves.
Last year, Iran’s Attorney-General criticized the “low numbers” of hand amputation punishments in Iran as a result of human rights condemnations and called it “unfortunate”.
In comments carried by the Fars News Agency, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri said that the hands of thieves had to be amputated but that “unfortunately, so as not be condemned on human rights issues in the United Nations, we have abandoned some of the divine laws.”
“One of the mistakes that we make is that we are afraid of human rights (propaganda) and that they say that you treat thieves violently,” he added in a meeting with police commanders on January 16, 2019.
According to Amnesty International, the Iranian authorities have consistently defended amputation as the best way to deter theft, expressing regret that it cannot be practiced in public and on a widespread basis without international condemnation.
In a shocking statement before the UN Human Rights Council in October 2010, Mohammad Javad Larijani, the head of Iran’s Human Rights Council, denied that such punishments amount to torture, claiming they are “culturally and religiously justified”.