Interview with Malak Ghorbany's lawyer

 


Interview with Mohamad Mostafaei,

counsel for Malak Ghorbany

 

Q: Please tell us a bit about Shamameh (Malak) Ghorbany

Mohamad Mostafaei: Shamameh is 35 years old. She can't read or write and is from Naghdeh.She is the mother of two small children, who are now living with Malak's father in a village near Orumieyh.She is a simple and peaceful woman who is easily scared and is easily affected by threats from those around her.

Q: Please tell us a bit about the current status of her case.

MM: Malak had met a young man, named Morad, who lived in the neighborhood.Apparently, Morad had noticed that Malak's husband spends a lot of nights away from home and would force Malak to communicate with him.On the night of the incident, Morad was at Malak's home, and Malak's brother becomes informed of this. Malak's brother, who suffers from emotional problems and has difficulty controlling his actions, went to Malak's husband and brought him back to the house with him.

The two men had already prepared a knife to use, which they took with them.When they got to the house and opened the door, they saw Morad, who begins to run from them. They chase after Morad, who fled to the rooftop, trap him there, and stab him repeatedly with the knife.They then turn their attention to Malak, and use the same knife to attack her and stab her, causing life-threatening injuries. Consequently, Malak was rushed to the emergency room and was hospitalized for several months. She was arrested when she was released from the hospital.

As mentioned before, Malak is an illiterate and simple woman. The last thing she considered was having an extramarital relationship! None the less, she "confessed" to having committed adultery in an attempt to save her husband and her brother from capital punishment for first degree murder.

Under the Islamic legal system, when a man finds his wife engaged in an act of adultery with another man, he has the right to kill both his wife and the other man. In that context, the husband would not be charged with a crime, as the wife is deemed to bear the responsibility.In Morad's case, the only way that the two men could have been spared from charges of murder would have been if they had caught him committing adultery with Malak. The reason that Malak claimed to have committed adultery was because her brother had repeatedly told her that if she does not do so, he would kill her as soon as he was released from prison. Malak's brother is not emotionally stable, and, in my opinion, controls Malak.

Malak's case file reveals that her confession could not have been true.For example, when Morad's body was discovered, he was fully dressed. Even his belt was fully secured.No one can button up his shirt buttons and fully secure his belt in such a short period of time while fleeing! This is an important point that I brought to the attention of the court that reviewed Malak's case, and pointed out that the only reason that Malak would have provided the confession that she did despite evidence to the contrary was to have spared her brother and husband from receiving the death penalty.

Q: Please explain how you learned about Malak's case and how long you have been representing her. Did she have a court-appointed lawyer before?

MM: In Iran, we have organized a group of volunteer lawyers who represent accused women and girls on death row. I learned about Malak's case through my association with this group.I am representing Malak with another lawyer who is also a member of the volunteer lawyers association. We got the case when the Supreme Court had decided to review the sentence of death by stoning, which was issued in Malak's case by the original trial court.

With respect to Malak's first defense attorney, I must say that he was appointed after the third hearing and that is one of the problems in this case and one with which we took issue on appeal given that, under the law, persons whose crime triggers the punishment of death by stoning must have a lawyer appointed to them from the very beginning of the case against them.

Of course, I must also emphasize that, in order to ensure that Malak would confess to the crime of adultery, her brother hired a lawyer for her! However, because we were present at the new trial and Malak trusted us, that lawyer was forced to withdraw from the case.

Q: Please elaborate on the incredulities in Malak's case.

MM: In one of the initial hearings in this case, Malak had stated that she did not willingly engage in adultery with the decedant. Reluctance to willingly participate in the alleged crime is a matter of legal incredulity, which the trial court should have noted. In criminal cases, confessions, in and of themselves, are not enough to prove guilt; they must be accompanied with other forms of proof.These elements are absent from Malak's case. The decedent had forced Malak into communicating with him and any communication that Malak had with Morad was involuntary on Malak's part.

We emphasized these issues at the appellate level and the presiding judges paid close attention to those arguments.Another hearing is scheduled to take place in a couple of months, at which time a final decision will be issued.

I hope that Malak will be exonerated of the charges against her because she is innocent and is a victim of her brother's head-games and emotional manipulation. Right now, she suffers from tremendous emotional distress because her brother continues to torment her and has, once again, threatened to kill her.

If Malak is exonerated, then the two men (who conspired together and murdered Morad), will face the death penalty.However, in light of its mistake in condemning Malak for the murder, the court can sentence them to jail, order them to pay diyeh or reissue the current sentence.

Q: What is the current status of the two men who actually murdered Morad? How would Malak's exoneration affect their cases?

MM: Malak's brother and husband have been sentenced to six years in prison for murder. They are currently in Orumiyeh jail.

If Malak is exonerated, then that will serve to dismiss the charges against them.However, the court can order the men to be imprisoned again based on the mistake they forced the court to commit and to order them to pay Dieyh; or I can issue a new sentence for their punishment.

Q: What can people do to help Malak?

MM: Malak Ghorbany is truly a victim of violence.She could use supportive and encouraging words as she is in desperate need of compassion, both as she sits in jail and when she is released.For now, it is best to be patient and to wait for the court's decision. I have a feeling that they will exonerate her of all charges.

Interviewer: Mr. Mostafaei, I thank you and wish you great success in saving the victims of violence.

NOTE: Since this interview was conducted, Malak has dismissed her lawyers based on pressure from her brother, whose punishment would be greatly affected if Malak is exonerated. Mr. Mostafaei plans on going to visit Malak in prison to personally speak with her about this decision.