NASSER ZARAFCHAN – Human Rights Lawyer

Mr. Nasser Zarafchan, prominent lawyer, age fifty-six, was sentenced 18 March 2002 by a Military Court to two years for publicizing state information, three years for possession of firearms and 70 lashes for illegally possessing alcohol. He was also banned from practicing law for five years. Zarafchan has been serving these sentences since August 7, 2002, shortly after the sentences were confirmed on appeal, July 16, 2002, by the Military Tribunal of Tehran. The appeal court also ordered medical tests to determine Mr. Zaarafchan’s physical health.

The alcohol and firearms charges stemmed from a search done of Zarafchan’s office while he was in detention, and without the presence of his lawyer. The dissemination of information charges stemmed from Zarafchan’s representation of the children of political activists who were murdered in 1998, allegedly by officials of the Ministry of Intelligence. Prior to being charged, Mr. Nasser Zarafchan had criticized the manner in which these murders have been investigated, including the absence of important information from court files. This case was very controversial and well-publicized.

Amnesty International has expressed concern that the charges against Nasser Zarafchan were politically motivated.

LRWC wrote in August 2002, to the authorities of the Republic of Iran, requesting that Mr. Zarafchans sentence of 70 slashes be suspended, and that flogging as a punishment be abolished permanently. The letter also requested clarification on the legal basis, as to why Mr. Zarafchan, who is a civilian, was tried and convicted in a military court, as well as to what military law allows him to be banned from practicing law.

On December 2, 2004 Nasser Zarafchan’s fell ill after a severe kidney inflammation and was hospitalized within Evin Prison, where he is being detained. A December 6, 2004 request from his lawyer, Shirin Ebadi, that Zarafchan be allowed to be hospitalized outside of the prison was refused by the Tehran Prosecutor Said Motazavi. Zarafchan has been allowed out of the prison three times, but never for a long enough period to be adequately treated.

In mid-April 2005 Nasser Zarafchan wrote a letter detailing his need and denial of medical attention for his kidney disorder and outlining his repeated attempts to bring these matters to the attention of prison officials. Shortly after the letter was written, prison staff searched through Zarafchan’s cell, destroying many of his possessions, while Zarafchan was in a meeting with his lawyer in another room. After this search, Zarafchan was relocated to another part of the prison which houses individuals convicted of violent crimes. Since being relocated, it has been reported that Zarafchan has been repeatedly harassed and threatened by inmates.

On April 21, 2005 Zarafchan went on a hunger strike for an undetermined period of time, demanding to be separated from the general population of the prison, access to proper medical treatment outside of the prison and visitation rights to see family members.

LRWC remains concerned that Mr. Zarafchan has been wrongly convicted and imprisoned and is not receiving proper medical treatment.


Letter written November 15, 2001

Letter written July 22, 2002 by Clayton C. Ruby

Letter written July 23, 2002 by Catherine A. Morris

Letter written August 20, 2002 by C.A. Morris

Letter written February 22, 2005 by Charles B. Davison

Letter written April 22, 2005 by C.A. Morris, LL.B.. LL.M.

Letter written May 11, 2005 by Hugh Gwillim