TEHRAN—-An Islamic judge sentenced a Dutch woman of Iranian ancestry to death by hanging. Zahra Bahrami, 45, was accused of possessing and smuggling narcotics.
Reports have surfaced in Iran that Bahrami was not hung as the Iranian officials previously claimed. Instead some Iranian sources state that Bahrami died in prison as a result of torture. These claims have not been verified by independent sources.
The Iranian government buried the body Bahrami in a remote location some 430 km away from Tehran where she was reportedly hung.
Bahrami’s daughter was unable to attend the burial of her mother due to distance from Tehran and the short notice given by the Iranian officials. The secrecy under which Bahrami’s body was recently buried has bolstered the claim that she may have been murdered in the hands of her Iranian captors.
The Dutch government has officially requested the release of Bahrami’s body but the Iranian government has refused. The Dutch government recently recalled its ambassador to Iran and has severed official ties with Tehran.
Possession and distribution of drugs in Iran is a capitol offense punishable by hanging.
Bahrami, a Dutch citizen, traveled to Iran to visit her daughter. She took part in post-election protests in Tehran and was later identified by Iranian security officials.
She was arrested and charged with participating in protests against the government.
After Bahrami’s arrest, Iranian prosecutors charged her with possession of large quantities of illegal drugs.
According to Iranian officials, Bahrami and a Dutch partner had in their possession 450 grams of cocaine they smuggled into the country.
An Iranian court convicted Bahrami and sentenced her to death by hanging.
According to Bahrami’s daughter, Iranian security agents had planted the drugs in Bahrami’s home. Bahrami’s daughter stated to Iranian press that she was often prevented from seeing her mother and had no opportunity to say goodbye before the sentenced was carried out.
According to International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, “during Zahra Bahrami’s detention, her interrogation team was the Iranian Intelligence Ministry’s Anti-Espionage Team. Therefore the possibility that her initial charges were drug-related is nil”.
Although the condemned woman is reported to have confessed to drug trafficking, she later recanted her confession in court and stated that her confession was obtained under duress.
It is widely believed that Iranian security agents use torture and intimidation in order to obtain confessions from prisoners.
In the mean time, Dutch government expressed outrage at the news of Bahrami’s execution. The Dutch authorities complain that Iranian government prevented their consular staff from visiting Bahrami in prison.
Iran defended its action because Bahrami was an Iranian citizen and Iranian law does not recognize dual citizenship.
During her trial, Bahrami denied the trafficking charges but the Iranian revolutionary court found her guilty and sentenced her to death.
The initial espionage charges were never pursued in court. Bahrami died on January 29, 2011.