The recent broadcast of a video showing the forced "confessions" of three Iranian men sentenced to death on Iranian state TV has raised concerns about their imminent execution in the central city of Isfahan.
On May 12, Amnesty International warned that Majid Kazemi, Saleh Mirhashemi and Saeed Yaghoubi could be executed at any time after the Supreme Court upheld their "unjust" convictions and death sentences earlier this month. The London-based human rights watchdog urged Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to immediately halt any plans to execute the trio and quash their convictions and death sentences.
Mirhashemi was twice sentenced to death, while Kazemi and Yaghoubi were handed capital punishment and a 10-year prison sentence in relation to the death of three members of the paramilitary Basij force during protests in Isfahan on November 15, 2022.
In an interview with IranWire, a cousin of Kazemi who resides in Sydney, Australia, said that the narrative presented by the Islamic Republic's state TV is "contradictory, ambiguous, and even false."
Mohammad Hashemi said that Kazemi's appointed lawyers were sure that his sentence would be reduced after the case was referred to the Supreme Court.
He said that the broadcast of the forced "confessions" after the court upheld the verdicts terrified the trio's families.
After the case was referred to the Supreme Court, he also said, the families received information that Asadullah Jafari, the chief prosecutor of Isfahan province, sent two busloads of people to Tehran to gather in front of the court with the aim of exerting pressure to get the death sentences confirmed and quickly executed.
It is evident that Kazemi, Mirhashemi and Yaghoubi were coerced into making "confessions" for crimes they did not commit.
In the video broadcast on state TV, the defendants claimed to have had "access to weapons" and that they did "a lot of shooting." Although they mentioned the presence of other individuals who were also "shooting," they did not mention any violence directed toward security forces.
Besides, the Supreme Court acknowledged that Mirhashemi denied carrying any weapons, and the weapon allegedly belonging to him has not been recovered.
The video of the "confessions" is only 4 minutes and 16 seconds long, but it has been edited 53 times to include images from the night of the incident, the defendants' accusations against each other, the moment of their arrest and the reconstruction of the crime scene.
The clip contains several errors. For instance, it claims to show the moment when one of the defendants was arrested by agents of Isfahan's Sahib Al-Zaman Corps. However, the images clearly show that the defendant's hands are tied behind his back.
This calls into question the credibility of the entire video. If its creators are capable of making such a basic mistake, it is possible that they have also fabricated other parts of the video.