Hana Abdi Sentenced to Serve 5 Years Prison Term in Another Province
Thursday 19 June 2008
Mohammad Sharif, Hana’s Lawyer: The Sentence Issued is Worrisome and Inappropriate
Change for Equality: Hana Abdi, women’s rights activist, is a 21 year old university student at Payame Nour University in the city of Bijar. She is a member of Azar Mehr Women’s NGO in Kurdistan, and the One Million Signatures Campaign. Hana Abdi has been in detention since November 6, 2007, when she was arrested by security officers in the City of Sanandaj, Kurdistan Province, Iran. The unexpected and unprecedented sentence issued in the case of Hana Abdi, condemns her to serve a 5 year term in prison in exile in West Azarbaijan Province (in a different city and province other than her own). The following is an interview regarding the most recent developments in the case of Hana Abdi, with her lawyer Dr. Mohammad Sharif:
Dr. Sharif, we have been informed that you have been officially served with court documents related to the sentence issued in the case of your client, Hana Abdi. Is this correct?
Yes, unfortunately I was officially served with her sentence. This sentence is seriously inappropriate given the nature of the case against my client. Unfortunately Hana Abdi has been sentenced to serve 5 years in prison in a northern border province, in Jolfa in the most northern part of West Azarbaijan Province [which is very far from her home province of Kurdistan].
Exactly what are the charges against Hana?
She has been charged with gathering and collusion with the intent of committing a crime against national security. This sentence has been issued with reference to articles 189, 190, 191, and 194 of the Penal Code, in relation to the crime of Moharebe (combat against Islam and the State) and also article 610 of the Penal Code which is more inline with Hana’s crime, and carries with it 2-5 years prison term. It should be noted that Hana was issued the maximum sentence allowed in such circumstances. Given the fact that the sentence is seriously inappropriate given the nature of the case against my client, it is possible that the sentence will be over turned in appeals court. Nevertheless, I absolutely did not expect such a sentence in Hana’s case. I had predicted that she would be sentenced to 2 years prison term, in a city close to Sanandaj, close to her family, not in a border province so far away.
Have you been in touch with Hana’s family?
I have spoken with her father and brother, but not with her mother. I am not sure how her mother is taking the news and am worried about her.
Unofficial news reports indicate that Hana’s mother has been transferred to hospital as a result of the news about her daughter’s prison sentence. Do you know anything about the current health status of Hana’s mother?
No I have no news in this regard. I have just asked those who have inquired about the status of Hana’s case to contact her mother as well. I am not used to providing false hope, so I have asked others to contact her mother and explain that the sentence will be overturned in appeals. At any rate, there is much cause for concern. Hana is 21 years old—born in 1986. Our prisons are not segregated, meaning that she will probably have to spend these 5 years in a prison with ordinary criminals. I am very concerned about this issue, and of course, I will explain my concern in appeals court.
When will you object to this sentence?
We have 20 days during which we can submit our objection to the sentence issued by the courts. I will write the objection and personally follow-up with the courts. This sentence is completely inappropriate given the case against my client and is of great concern. I am not sure what to do. I too can only take refuge in the benevolence of God. At any rate, continually expressing sentiments of regret with respect to this sentence will not result in any change, but we have to remain hopeful. I hope that judiciary officials pay attention to the sentences issued by the judge in charge of Hana’s case. I have had other cases where he has been the presiding judge and it is usual for him to issue sentences which are inappropriate given the nature of the cases and charges. I hope that judiciary officials take appropriate steps and order a judicial review of the sentences issued by this judge. Of course, I will take necessary steps in this respect as well. The actions of Hana are not in any way or form in line with the charge of Moharebe, but the courts have referred to the four articles in the penal code as a basis for examining her case. In fact, Hana has not committed any crime that would create fear and panic among the public. And as such, finding her guilty of these actions in line with the charge of Moharebe is not appropriate.
What is the current status of Ronak Safarzadeh’s case, who was arrested a month prior to Hana and who is also charged with similar crimes?
I hope that the courts in charge of Ronak’s case do not issue inappropriate sentences. But given my previous experience with this branch of the Court, I am concerned. Certainly I never expected a sentence of 5 years, served in exile for Hana.
Dr. Sharif, we thank you for your time.