Stay of execution for VUB professor jailed in Iran

Stay of execution for VUB professor jailed in Iran
Protest at the imprisonment of Prof Djalali on fake espionage charges. Credit: Belga

The planned execution of Ahmadreza Djalali in Iran appears to have been postponed, according to Amnesty International.

Professor Djalali is a Swedish-Iranian medical specialist who has also been a visiting professor at the Free University of Brussels (VUB). He has been in prison in Iran under sentence of death since 2017, following a show trial for espionage.

Last week he called his wife in Sweden to tell her he was being moved to solitary confinement, the usual prelude to an execution. Since then, efforts by academics, public and diplomats to bring pressure on the Iranian regime to commute Djalali’s death sentence have been fruitless.

Then this week there were reports he was to be transferred to Rajaj Shar prison in Karaj, where executions usually take place. That move has been postponed, according to his wife, Vida Mehrannia, his lawyer and Amnesty.

According to Djalali’s lawyer, the magistrate in Tehran who gave the order for the transfer has decided the prisoner may receive one more visit from his family before sentence is carried out.

The order to transfer him to Karaj prison has not been carried out. He is still in Evin Prison,” said Lore Van Welden, spokesperson for Amnesty International Vlaanderen. All we know now is that there is a delay of a few days. That is a certain relief, but he still remains at great risk of execution,” she said.

Yesterday Belgium’s foreign minister, Sophie Wilmès (MR), called her Iranian counterpart, foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. According to the Iranian ministry’s Twitter account, Wilmès condemned the attack on nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh last week in Tehran.

Wilmès own spokesperson this morning told De Morgen the minister had also addressed the question of Djalili’s continued detention and the threat that hangs over him.

Given the sensitivity of the case, however, nothing can be communicated about that conversation,” the spokesperson said. “Further communication would be counterproductive in this process.”

Alan Hope

The Brussels Times

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