Shahla asked her friends around the world for forgiveness for the “trouble” of trying to save her life, and demands that the pictures in which she was caught crying NOT to be published.
مادر شهلا پس از اعدام دخترش
Shahla Jahed’s mother minutes after the execution of her daughter
Was Shahla’s murder politically motivated? Former Case Detective Speaks Out:
Shahla was hung for the murder of Laleh Saharkhizan, the wife of Shahla’s lover, football (soccer) player Nasser Mohammad Khani- even though activists, human rights organizations, Iranian judges, and a former detective on the case refute the evidence that led to her death sentence and eventual execution. It is now known that the case and the processing of it hit numerous snags along the way and many questions were left unanswered. It is also known that the Judiciary and its Chief, Sadeq Larijani did not conduct enough investigation into the case, ignored evidence, and even played a major role in politicizing the trial, the verdict, and the execution. Considering all this, it is not surprising that even after Shahla Jahed’s execution, the pieces have not yet been put properly together regarding the murder of Laleh Saharkhizan. Even less surprising is that after being present and witnessing the execution of Shahla Jahed and maintaining his stance that his ex-lover is guilty for murdering his wife, Nasser Mohammadi Khani boarded a plane and left Iran for Qatar.
Recently, news sites published a statement by the International Committee of Human Rights lawyers (ICHRL) to Sadeq Larijani to request an immediate halt to proceedings for the execution order. The letter stated that the case has too many irregularities and unanswered questions. The letter can be read here.
Major Abharian, who used to be on the case and in charge of the detective work, was dismissed from his position. He left Iran four months ago. He spoke to the Jaras website regarding the case of Shahla Jahed. The following are translated excerpts from the interview:
My name is Babak Hassani Abharian and I was a Major working for the police department.
Jaras- Mr. Abharian…Previously the Judiciary Chief Larijani asked for and “eye-for-an-eye” verdict. But there are many doubts surrounding this case. She has be retried for this case. Would you please explain what doubts exist?
Abharian- This is a complex case. Many [factors] have not been resolved…Even I, a detective on the case, expressed concern over the deficiencies in the case. The number of stab wounds, the way they were inflicted, and the fact that the victim’s clothes were not torn and two cigarette butts were found at the scene were not examined by the police. We reviewed this and [re]sent the [information] to the police. Other doubts surround the fact that the safe in the house and the jewelery inside were never discovered by the perpetrator(s). The main problem with this case is that the murder weapon was never discovered.
The other problems have to do with the coroner’s office. When the murder took place and even though the police headquarters staffs experienced detectives who could have solved the case, why did they decide to use detectives from the Water Department police? This was unprecedented during my 20 years at the force.
The other part that was not investigated well is the fact that the victim was being harassed every night and gravel was thrown at her windows. No investigation was launched regarding this matter. The fact that after nine years they have decided to carry out this sentence is very questionable.
As you pointed out, many experienced judges shared the opinion that Mrs. Jahed cannot be the perpetrator in the case. This is why lawyers like Nasrin Sotoudeh took on the case. She is now under arrest. No real investigation has been performed in the case.
Jaras- You point out that there have been many evidences in favor of Shahla Jahed but they have been deliberately ignored. Would you explain?
Abharian- I explained the cigarette butts. There was also a wet towel at the scene which indicates that the murderer(s) wiped themselves after the act. It is interesting that the scene was cleansed. The bloody rug was washed. The investigators claimed that the reason they cleansed the scene was so that when Nasser Mohammad Khani, the husband, returns home, he would not be shocked! This is highly doubtful. Nobody should touch a crime scene and it must be cordoned off. Our group is a professional group. We take fingerprints, etc. How is it that our office failed to take the two cigarette butts with them? The judge [on the case] has stated that the blood stain on the mattress was left out of the investigation! What kind of police work is this? You can rest assured that the investigators know what they are doing.
Jaras- Mr. Abharian, you said that Laleh Saharkhizan’s murder was committed by the Intelligence services of Iran and they [used] Shahla Jahed as the scapegoat. What evidence do you have for this claim?
Abharian- As I said, first the Water Department investigation team was highly suspicious. Additionally, the father of the victim was a well known contractor in Qatar. The victim and her husband had indicated that the victim’s uncle was working for Qatar’s Intelligence service. The victim was involved in many suspicious activities and insisted that her husband move their family to Qatar, stating that she was scared of living in their house. These are the issues that make us believe this was an Intelligence job. When I brought these points up, I was released from the case and no investigation was conducted. It is interesting that during the initial investigations, the victim’s cousin was the main suspect in the media. When we got involved he was completely exonerated.
Jaras- When were you released from this case?
Abharian- I was on the case for a month and a half to two months.
Jaras- Did you reach any conclusions during this time?
Abharian- Yes. When I protested and asked why the Water Department was involved in the case and stated that the victim’s family relationships with the uncle need to be investigated, they relieved me from the case. I also received some information regarding the case and I wanted to bring them out in the open, but because of some side issues, I was not able to do so.
Jaras- With all the doubts you raised, what is your conclusion regarding this case?
Abharian- I believe and many agree that an independent and experienced investigative team needs to be formed to shed light on this case. The media plays an important role. You see, the victim’s family are only listening to the Judiciary and security forces right now and are unable to interfere in the case. They state that the decision is with the Judiciary. They cannot comprehend the doubts raised in this case because they are still in mourning. But the fact that a few judges have announced that Shahla Jahed is the culprit while other judges have said that she is not the culprit and have now left the case up the head of the Judiciary. [It is important to note] that the previous Judiciary head ordered the execution to be stopped and the current Judiciary head ordered her execution. All of this brings Iran’s entire Judiciary system under question.
Jaras- Mr. Abharian, let us look at the case from a different angle. Since this case is under public scrutiny and the fact that this case has been brought back to life after nine years while it was quiet for a long period of time, do you believe that the case is politically motivated? I mean, is this a diversion tactic for the officials to drive public opinion in a different direction or is this a show of power? what’s your opinion?
Abharian- Exactly! I believe that this is the case. Right now there is a campaign against the execution of Mrs. Ashtiani and the Islamic Republic of Iran is internationally under pressure. There is no doubt that this issue is related to the human rights situation in Iran and it is a show of power by the regime. You see, public opinion is already set in the case of Mrs. Ashtiani and people know what is going on. But the regime has brought up this case to show that it is not scared of international human rights organizations and it is capable of carrying out death sentences. Especially with the current political situation in Iran and the multitude of arrests of political activists, this can be considered a maneuver to divert public attention. But this issue should not cost someone their life.
Jaras- Would you like to add anything?
Abharian- First, I would like to thank you and especially Mohammad Mostafaei and the Committee of International Human Rights Lawyers. In the aftermath of last year’s Presidential election in Iran, an election that was totally fraud, issues came up in cases where I was in charge, but I was forced to flee the country along with my family. I did manage to talk about Shahla Jahed’s case with a few people, but, unfortunately they did not respond. The speed of action by Mr. Mostafaei and the good will exhibited in this case caused people to speak up. The other point is that I would like to ask everyone who is involved in campaigns against executions and campaigns against human rights violations in all of Europe and the U.S. and other countries to make their utmost effort so that an innocent person does not get executed without any credible evidence.
Persian2English Report by Maryam Nayeb Yazdi and Translation by Tour Irani
Persian Source: Jaras