Kaleme – Sepand Mir Yousefi Despite the new Islamic Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedures which effectively could lead to the release of many political prisoners, judicial authorities not only insist on the unjust prison sentences to be fully served, they also seek to keep the prisoners behind bars even after their prison sentences have been served. To accomplish this, the authorities have used some prisoners’ time out on prison furlough as an excuse to prevent them from release when their terms are done. On the other hand the wife of Mehdi Mahmoudian says a representative of the Prosecutor’s office gave them verbal assurances that prison furlough would not be counted as a leave of absence. According to Kaleme, Mehdi Mahmoudian, Bahman Ahmadi Amoui and Masoud Bastani are 3 such political prisoners who were arrested in 2009 during the events of mass protests following the disputed presidential election results. All 3 have been serving their sentences in Rajai Shahr prison. Prison officials have so far abstained from tending to their legal files consequently postponing their release dates. However what the judicial authority labels as a leave of absence is in reality the time that these prisoners – per the verbal approval of the representative of the Prosecutor’s office – remained out of prison while on furlough. Mehdi Mahmoudian [prominent journalist who exposed gross human rights violations at the Kahrizak detention center, and member of the now banned Participation Front political party] – is one such prisoner who was due to be released today August 21st. But he remains behind bars and per orders of prison authorities his release date has been extended until September 7th. Elham Zolfaghari in an interview with Kaleme explains the dealings between judicial authorities and her husband Mehdi Mahmoudian leading to his release date being prolonged for an extra 2 weeks.
Mr. Mahmoudian was arrested in September 2009 and has been behind bars since then with the exception of a few short releases on furlough. Considering the fact that his prison sentence was 5 years, what is the exact date of his sanctioned release?
His release date was set for August 21st, which is today. But last year he was granted furlough for about 3-4 months along with [political prisoners & journalists] Bahman Amoui and Masoud Bastani. At that time they went to the Prosecutor’s office several times to request an increase to their time on furlough, and [deputy prosecutor] Mr. Khodabakhsi himself said not to come back to the office because they would put extensions into effect themselves, and would call the prisoners and let them know whenever it was required of them to report back to prison. But then one month and 20 days before the [Persian] New Year they called and said, ‘Why haven’t you come back? We will count this period of time that you failed to return as a leave of absence!’
So the time that they had verbally acquiesced to as an extension to furlough, they ended up counting as a leave of absence? When did you become aware of this?
The document that was given to Mehdi showed February 21, 2015 as his release date prompting us along with other families to make visits to the Prosecutor’s office. We said the time off was on furlough and you were the ones who told us you would call when it was required of them to go back to prison. After all a prisoner’s leave of absence doesn’t happen like this. One day maybe they don’t show up,; 5 days; 20 days; but no one will not show up for 160 days, especially knowing that the days will be counted towards a leave of absence. For Mr. Amoui they had tallied 140 days and for Masoud Bastani 120 days. Nobody would be a no-show for this long!
Did you not follow up on why they didn’t adhere to what Mr. Khodabakhsi had said? What is the end resul
We pursued the matter extensively and they finally agreed to count some of the days as time on furlough, but refused to concede about 15-16 days. His release should have been August 21st which is today but they added some time and announced September 7th as his new release date.
Did you have visitation with Mehdi on Wednesday? Did he not say anything about this issue?
He also said that his release date is August 21st but they have counted 15-16 days as a leave of absence therefore extending his release date to September 7th.
How about Masoud Bastani and Ahmadi Amoui?
Bahman’s release date was scheduled to be September 21st but 15-16 days were added, extending it to sometime in mid-October. And Masoud has a 6-year prison sentence, which makes his release date sometime around this time next year.
What do Zeynab’s daughters say and feel about their father’s freedom?
Regardless they are happy that their father is due for release after 5 years of imprisonment. Any child would feel the same way. Ultimately this child has her own narrative. From the time that she entered first grade in September exactly 5 years ago, her father was in prison. This year she enters the 6th grade and her father will come home.
Mr. Mahmoudian came home two weeks ago for only 4 days to tend to his ailing father’s affairs. How is his father doing?
His father isn’t doing well; he is mostly bedridden and has to be fed. Those 4 days were granted only because his father’s health had gravely deteriorated and while out he was only allowed to see his father. Unfortunately his father is not doing well.
Do you have anything else you would like to say?
I would just like all families [of political prisoners] to have some level of happiness; for [authorities] to not cause further distress to the families and to at the very least stand by their own words. Let them hear my voice, that when they say ‘you can go and we will take care of the extension ourselves and will call you when the time comes’ – to not create problems for the prisoners later. So now after 5 years when he is ready to be released, it is still not clear if he is required to go back or not, if we should accept what we are told or not, if the prison officials will accept what we were told, or not. I am still not very optimistic. But god willing, we will see if he is released on Sepetember 7th or not. Kaleme http://www.kaleme.com/1393/05/30/klm-195485/