Hojatoleslam Mohammad Niazi, a Supreme Court Judge in Iran, says government opponents may be executed without a trial, based on a fatwa handed down in 1988 by the Islamic Republic’s founder Ruhollah Khomeini.
Judge Niazi made the statement in an interview with the state-run Shabestan News Agency on 29 July 2020 about the execution of political prisoners in the summer of 1988, commonly known as the 1988 massacre.
Khomeini’s fatwa targeted the opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK), but members of other groups were also executed during the 1988 massacre.
Judge Niazi told the news agency: “His Eminence the Imam [Khomeini] said the hypocrites (Iranian officials’ derogatory term for the MEK) who remain steadfast in their position are Mohareb (waging war against God).”
Asked why opponents were executed without a trial in 1988, Judge Niazi responded: “You ask me why they were executed without a trial? These hypocrites were executed based on the Supreme Leader’s fatwa. … When the Supreme Leader considers someone to be Mohareb, there is no need for a trial, just as when Imam Khomeini issued a decree for the death of Salman Rushdie, or as the late Mirza-e Shirazi issued a historic fatwa prohibiting the use of tobaccos, on the basis that they were at war with the Imam Mehdi [an eschatological redeemer in Shiite Islam].”
Elsewhere in the interview, Judge Niazi acknowledged he was active in the 1988 massacre and headed a “special court” in Khuzestan province, southwest Iran.
“At the end of the [Iran-Iraq] war, the hypocrites struck heavy blows to the country and attacked parts of the country. His Eminence the Imam issued an order to Mr. [Ali] Razini to establish special military courts and decreed: ‘Those who flee the war fronts, if their escape results in the defeat of the Islamic front, are Mohareb and sentenced to death.’ Thus, special courts were set up, and in Khuzestan, I headed this court,” Judge Niazi said.
Judge Niazi has held various posts in the Iranian Judiciary for more than 30 years. Prior to becoming a Supreme Court judge, Mohammad Niazi headed the Judiciary Organization of the Armed Forces.
Members of the 1988 Death Commissions who extra-legally executed thousands of political prisoners in 1988 are currently running the Iranian Judiciary. Iran’s current Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi was a key member of the Tehran Death Commission in 1988.
Seven United Nations human rights experts in December 2020 stated that the 1988 massacre “may amount to crimes against humanity.”
Justice for the Victims of the 1988 Massacre in Iran (JVMI) is appealing for the establishment of a UN Commission of Inquiry to put an end to the impunity enjoyed by the Death Commission members and to hold them accountable for their role in this ongoing crime against humanity.
Click here to read more about the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran.
Link to Mohammad Niazi’s interview with Shabestan News Agency on 29 July 2020: http://shabestan.ir/detail/News/954591
Screenshot of Mohammad Niazi’s interview with Shabestan News Agency: