VUB professor’s death sentence provisionally suspended in Iran

Wednesday, 24 January 2018 17:54
VUB professor’s death sentence provisionally suspended in Iran © Belga
The death sentence issued against university professor Ahmadreza Djalali in Iran has been suspended pending further investigations by the Iranian Supreme Court, his attorney, Zouhaier Chihaoui confirmed.
Djalali’s case sparked widespread reactions internationally, especially in Belgium, where he lectured at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). A Supreme Court judge is scheduled to examine his case next month. “We hope the sentence will be quashed,” another of his lawyers, Zeinab Taheri, told the Human Rights Centre in Iran.

"My client’s file is currently under investigation by a deputy prosecutor and his assistant in charge of enforcing sentences,” Taheri explained. “Both have voiced objections similar to those of Ahmadreza Djalali.” 

The lawyer also noted the concern of medical staff at the Evin prison, where Djalali is detained. The emergency doctor there feels that the 45-year-old accused needs to be taken to an external hospital to be examined for a “potential tumor”. However, the judge in charge of the investigation, Abolgasem Salavati, has repeatedly rejected requests to that effect.

"Unfortunately, Ahmadreza Djalali is not feeling well,” his lawyer added. “He is eating, but continues to lose weight. He himself is a doctor and says it’s possible that a tumor may have developed in his digestive tract.”

Djalali, who has lived in Sweden in addition to teaching in Belgium, had been found guilty of spying and involvement in the deaths of two nuclear scientists after confessing under the effect of physical and psychological torture.

He denies any involvement in spying activities. In a letter addressed to judge Sadegh Larijani earlier this month, he explains that he has never worked for Mossad, as the prosecution has claimed. No evidence to support that claim was produced at any moment of the trial.

A colleague and doctor at the university hospital, Gerlant Van Berlaer, said he no longer wanted to hear talk of a suspension. “The case is moving. The politicians have to keep the pressure up so that all that’s left is for him to request a pardon.”

Christopher Vincent
The Brussels Times
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