As the world bemoans the hanging of 26 year old Iranian woman Reyhaneh Jabbari, who was convicted of murdering physician and former Iranian intelligence officer Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, who she accused of allegedly attempting to rape her, the question of what exactly transpired on the day of the crime and the court’s reason to sentence Jabbari to death has come to surface. To give every Rashomon’s character a chance, we publish an interview of Justice Hassan Tardast, the former judge of this case who was interviewed by Iran’s Entekhab before the hanging.
Note: We are publishing this interview to only understand the case from the less discussed side, and not in support of the hanging.
This interview is long and we have extracted parts of it here:
Mr. Tardast, you have been the judge for the case of Reyhaneh Jabbari, after seven years, do you still believe that she is a murderer?
What can change my mind after close and profound inspection of the case which as specified by the law, was examined and handled by five judges.… Anybody who reads the 24 page report of the case will vote for its truth…. It was examined on top of all that by thirteen Supreme Court judges and not a single one voted against the verdict.
There is now the “campaign of supporting Reyhaneh,” have you seen their contents?
I have seen the articles and views and I am sorry for Iran’s weakness in responding to centers for spreading lies. I have personally done my best in every case to convince victims’ families to forgive the murderer and not demand execution; I have thanked God every time I have been successful in that in similar cases. But with the invasion of agenda-driven groups on this case and spreading lies and accusations against the victim, the victim’s family are now holding a grudge and won’t consent to forgiving the murderer.
Where does the family of the murdered stand on consenting to let off the death penalty?
Once in court, I told them that even if the defendant has chosen a poor way for defense and have upset and disturbed you this way, consider that your father has made a sin having an affair, so please forgive this poor girl. But they told me: “First of all, this lady is not regretful at all. Secondly, instead of the truth, they now call my father a rapist.”
Honesty and regret would have helped the family forgive and relieve her of death sentence?
Yes, if instead of lies to get foreign citizenship, Ms. Jabbari had shown honesty and regret, she would have a good chance like many other cases.
How was the state of mind of Reyhaneh Jabbari?
It was in a way that in an SMS to one of her boyfriends, she said she intended to murder her father. In court she said that she was a victim of her father’s violence when he drank.
Has the confessions of Reyhaneh been given under duress?
Almost none of the key evidences come from her statements during the first interrogation, rather from her statements in court at the side of her lawyers. She so easily and relaxed talked about her deeds.
In social media, her ex-lawyer Mr. Mostafayi has claimed that the door was locked, because the door is so filled with strikes of knife that it shows she couldn’t open the door. Is that true?
It is an absolute lie. This ‘Mr. I-am-human-rights’ acts like a corrupt politician. The accused has repeatedly stated in the court that the door was not locked. After plunging a 10-inch long blade that she bought two days prior to the murder, she left the scene pretty easily. The crime scene also shows that the door is not “filled with strikes of knife.” There is the evidence for one strike of a sharp object. When asked “why did you strike the door?” She said: “’cause I was excited and in a hurry.” When asked “was the door locked?” She replied: “No it wasn’t… After I plunged the knife, he threw a chair at me, I exited using the elevator and he used the stairs.” He died after climbing down two stories.
What did Reyhaneh do after she exited?
She says: “I hid in the street, and waited. When I saw the ambulance and the Police, I took a taxi home.”
Did the neighbors hear Reyhaneh cry for help or anything?
The crime scene is a five-story building such that the least bit of cry would be heard easily. In the questionings, the neighbors said that they only heard an object strike the wall which was the chair thrown by the victim.
Was the relationship of Reyhaneh with the murdered only concerning her job?
Ms. Jabbari said at least three times in the court that “I used to give him services in return for benefits.” It had nothing to do with interior decorations. In their slang, what they mean by “giving services” is to have sex. In addition to having a fiancé and a boyfriend, she also had affairs with multiple people simultaneously including the manager where she worked, which resulted to having disputes with her fiancé.… This is an SMS from her fiancé to her: “You said goodbye to me when you started sleeping with…, dirt. This was my last SMS to you.”
Given the age difference between them, why did they have a relationship?
As stated and recorded in the case, she says regarding her relation with an older man (the murdered): “I wanted to give some controlled services and get some benefits. I wanted to prove that I can be independent without my family’s help.” Regarding how they met, she says: “On the street, he had a Toyota Camry [Cars are four times more expensive in Iran than anywhere else.—AM]. He stopped for me and I got in.… We exchanged numbers.” They had an affair weeks before the murder, they went to restaurants, were in touch constantly as their symcard messages show. On the day of the crime, the murdered came to her work to pick her up as planned. Her colleagues testified that when a Toyota Camry came to pick her up, she told them that he is her father’s friend, and that they want to buy the car. They even brought eggs for good luck.
Considering your thirty years of experience what do you think her motivation was?
For a solid investigation of the case, I appointed a female psychologist to the case to closely examine and interview the murderess and comment. The psychologist believed that the murderess suffered from an extreme case of narcissism. Her mindset contributed to her murder, but she had not suffered from any form of insanity to be absolved. Plus, since the murdered travelled a lot for trading medical equipment, he had promised her with trips to Europe which he didn’t keep and resulted in her anger. He also had promised to give her the Toyota for a Thursday out-of-town picnic with her friends at work which he didn’t do; this also raged her a great deal. She said she was embarrassed in front of her friends.
Did Reihaneh plan for the murder?
Reihaneh is not in the habit of being manipulated and never tolerates “not receiving benefits in return for her services.” That day when the murdered asked: “Take off your scarf,” she refused. When asked if he did any act of coercion and if he turned and moved away from her, she replies: “He went to say his prayers.” The blood spatter analysis on the Sajaddeh and the chair also confirms that he was saying the prayer at the time of murder and had his back to her.
Was the plunging of the knife lethal?
The knife went into his lungs. Forensic results contradict Mr. Mostafayi’s claim that “she just had a simple strike to the shoulder.”… The murdered had bought condoms on the way there, which he had put on the table right in front of her.
It is claimed that Reyhaneh’s drink was spiked. Did you send the glasses to the lab?
There were two glasses, both of which were tested. The reports show that one of the glasses contained Difnoxilat which is a laxative.
Do you concur with efforts to make the blood owner’s consent for lifting the death penalty?
Although I have retired and although it is their right to have the execution according to Islamic laws, I am ready to do everything within my means to get the blood owner’s consent.
UPDATE: The execution of Reyhaneh Jabbari has been postponed for another 10 days to give her a chance to get the consent of the victim’s family to let off the death penalty. The family have formally stated for quite a while that they are willing to forgive Rayhaneh Jabbari, provided that she comes out with the truth. Two nights ago, BBC Farsi brought a women’s activist to discuss the case. When asked “What does the son of Mr. Sarbandi mean by truth?” she replied:”What truth? Who knows what they mean?” Despite women’s groups lying through their teeth, the family has stated that they will ask for the death penalty to be rescinded if she comes out with the truth regarding the two following questions:
When she committed the murder, a male accomplice was waiting for her and entered the room, this is why the victim followed them. Reyhaneh has referred to this accomplice as “Sh.” The family demands his identity.
Secondly, the family demands the real reason for the murder as opposed to the false accusation of rape.
Why aren’t these “women’s groups” in support of getting these questions answered?