Habibollah Latifi

The defence team of Habibollah Latifi, Kurdish student who is to be executed on Sunday, have issued a letter to the head of Iran’s judiciary, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, requesting a pardon and calling for a stay of execution for their client.

Habibollah Latifi, a Kurdish-Iranian student at the Open University of Ilam was given the death penalty in a court carried out behind closed doors two years ago in Sanandaj. He is charged with enmity against God and membership in the Kurdish separatist group, Pezhak.

In an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Nemat Ahmadi, one of Latifi’s lawyers expressed some optimism that the head of judiciary may respond to their letter in view of the “good and appropriate” treatment they had received in the office of Ayatollah Larijani.

Ahmadi added that they had protested against the fact that Latifi’s trial was carried out in the Revolutionary court and also that the presence of the officials from the ministry of intelligence had created a “heavy atmosphere” at the trial.

In the letter, Ahmadi assures Ayatollah Larijani that under more open circumstances, in view of Latifi’s denial of the charges, their client’s innocence would become evident.

Iranian judiciary has announced that Latifi’s sentence has been confirmed and he will be executed on Sunday, December 26.

Saleh Nikbakht, another defence attorney for Latifi has reportedly visited Sanadaj Court along with Latifi’s family to stop the execution.

His family has reported that they have been unable to contact him by phone at prison in the past days which is cause for grave concern since prisoners who are to be executed are usually transferred to a special section and not allowed any telephone contacts a few days before carrying out the sentence.

His family maintains that Latifi was just a student who participated in peaceful demonstrations which were all legal. They insist that Latifi is innocent of the charges against him, specifically the charge of “enmity against God” which involves taking up arms against the regime.

They also contend that he was tortured and the confessions taken from him were coerced.

They maintain that there are witnesses that are willing to take an oath that Latifi was not in Sanandaj at the time of the explosions  and assassination attempts he is chaeged with; however, the court refuses to hear from them.

Amnesty International has called on all its members to write to the Islamic Republic authorities to stop the execution of Habibollah Latifi.

Human Rights Watch has also urged the Iranian judiciary to rescind Latifi’s sentence that according to the rights group was handed to him in "an unfair trial."