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UN human rights experts urge Iran to annul Kurdish nationalist's death sentence

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UN human rights experts urge Iran to annul Kurdish nationalist's death sentence

It would be "unconscionable" for Iran to execute an ethnic Kurdish citizen who was allegedly tortured in detention and did not receive a fair trial, a group of United Nations human rights experts said on Thursday, urging the Islamic Republic's hardline authorities to spare the man's life.

Iranian Kurdish prisoner Ramin Hossein Panahi, who was arrested last June for alleged membership of the Kurdish nationalist group Komala, was repeatedly beaten in detention, denied medical care and access to a lawyer, and held in solitary confinement until January, according to the UN experts.

“Executing Mr. Panahi, following his torture, and unfair trial and on the basis of charges that do not meet international standards for the use of death penalty, would be unconscionable,” said the human rights experts

The experts also expressed concern regarding Panahi's trial, which they said took place before a Revolutionary Court and lasted less than an hour.

“We remind Iran that the only thing that distinguishes capital punishment from arbitrary execution is full respect for stringent due process guarantees,” the experts stated.

Despite torture marks on Panahi's body, the court did not order an investigation and allowed him only one meeting with his lawyer between his arrest and the trial and no family visits.

There are also ongoing concerns about Panahi, who reportedly began a hunger strike early this year, the human rights experts reported.

Members of Panahi’s family appeared to have been convicted in separate summary trials, and sentenced to long prison terms, in apparent reprisals for their efforts to obtain further information on his situation, the UN experts said.

It is understood that the Supreme Court branch in Qom reaffirmed Panahi’s death sentence earlier this month, and his case was due to be passed to the Office of Implementation, said the experts.

Panahi's lawyer has appealed for a judicial review and the experts are "in dialogue" with Iranian authorities regarding Panahi, the experts said.

The UN rights experts include Agnes Callamard, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Dainius Puras, the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; and Nils Melzer, the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

UN Special Rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

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