Name and surname: Mohammad Soltani

Biography: No information is available on his background or past

Responsibilities:

Head of Branch 3 of the Revolutionary Court of Mashhad – at least from 2010 to at least 2017

Human rights violations:

Mohammad Soltani, as Head of Branch 3 of the Revolutionary Court of Mashhad, is responsible for issuing death sentences, as well as imposing heavy prison sentences on Baha’i religious minority because of their religious beliefs. His trials were held behind closed doors and without due process and violate the basic rights of defendants.

Extensive and covert executions

From the beginning of the summer of 2009 to the end of the summer of 2011, Vakilabad Prison in Mashhad has carried out secret mass executions at least 35 times without revealing any information on the trial and sentencing process and without providing any information on names and details of those who were executed. The number of secret executions carried out in Vakilabad prison in Mashhad between 2009 and 2011 is estimated at 550 people. These large-scale executions were “secret”, “collective”, “unannounced” and without regard to due process. Death sentences have been handed down in trials, sometimes lasting only a few minutes. And many defendants have been deprived of the right to a fair trial. These conditions place these executions in the category of “illegal” and “extrajudicial” executions.

A witness in the Revolutionary Court of Mashhad said in this regard:

“Several special branches in the Revolutionary Court of Mashhad, without observing the rules of fair trial and current Iranian law, examine several cases of drug related offenders in less than an hour and in most cases the only evidence based on which the judge issues the sentence is the reports from Intelligence Ministry, NAJA and IRGC intelligence organisations or the false confessions of the defendants obtained under severe torture mostly carried our in NAJA detention centres. The vast majority of the death sentences are issued in the Revolutionary Court of Mashhad only by holding a “few minutes session”, which is usually without the presence of the defendants’ lawyer, then the death sentence is upheld and executed within few months..”

Mohammad Soltani, while presiding over Branch 3 of the Revolutionary Court of Mashhad in July 2012, had said:

“Non-addicted people who use drugs or psychotropic substances are fined 2 billion rials to 10 billion rials and given 50 to 74 lashes. The penalty for possession of 100 grams of Methamphetamine is death, and the penalty for a drug-related repeat offense, especially Methamphetamine, is also death even for possession of only one gram of the substance. This law also applies to the consumers as well because the legislature has come to the conclusion that criminal punishment can also be a preventative measure.”

Violation of the rights of Baha’i citizens due to religious beliefs

Soltani is responsible for issuing heavy prison sentences for Bahai minority because of their religious beliefs through unfair trials with lack of due process, and the use of extrajudicial procedures.

Two Baha’i sisters, Nika and Nava Kholusi, were arrested by Mashhad intelligence agents in September 2012, and after more than six months of detention without a hearing, were released on 3 billion Rials bail for each on April 1, 2013.

Nika and Nava Khulusi were eventually tried in a court presided by Judge Mohammad Soltani in May 2013 on charges of “membership in a Baha’i organization” and “propaganda in favour of the Baha’i faith.” They were sentenced, respectively, to six years and four and a half years in prison. In February 2015, Manouchehr Kholusi, a Baha’i citizen, was sentenced by Judge Soltani to six years in prison on charges of “acting against national security” and “propaganda against the regime.”

On March 30, 2017, five Baha’i citizens, Dari Amiri, May Kholousi, Saghi Fadai, and Shayan Tafzili, were sentenced to one year in prison each in Branch 3 of the Revolutionary Court of Mashhad, presided by Judge Mohammad Soltani, on the charge of propaganda against the regime.

 

Being added to the EU and US Human Rights Sanctions List

On April 13, 2011, the European Union placed 32 Iranian officials on the human rights sanctions list, including Mohammad Soltani, for their role in widespread and grave violations of the rights of Iranian citizens. According to this decision, Soltani will be banned from entering the countries of this union and all his assets in Europe will be confiscated.

According to the EU statement, Soltani was sanctioned because of his role in the summary trials held behind closed doors without respecting the basic rights of the accused and issuing the death sentence extensively without going through the legal process.

On 24 September 2020, the United States sanctioned several Iranian officials and entities, including Mohammad Soltani, for gross violations of human rights. According to the statement issued by the Secretary of State,  Mohammad Soltani “is responsible for sentencing Baha’is in Iran on dubious charges related to their exercise of freedom of expression or belief.” In accordance with these sanctions, Soltani is banned from entering the US and his assets in the US or in control of American banks and companies will be frozen.