3 Iranian filmmakers summoned for helping save Behnood Shojaee!

rooz – Nader Irani

In an unprecedented measure, the Iranian judiciary froze a joint bank account that had ‎been opened by three of the country’s most prominent movie directors and actors with the ‎purpose of collecting money to pay the “Diye” (i.e. blood money) set for a man currently ‎on the death row. The three revered personalities are Ezzatollah Entezami, Parviz ‎Parastooyi, and Kiyumars PoorAhmad who have been active to prevent the execution of a ‎death sentence on Behnood Shojayi, who is on the death row.‎

(Behnood) Shojaee was sentenced to death by an Iranian court for having killed his playmate, when ‎both were still juveniles. To complicate matters, his family has been unable to meet the ‎Diye, which if collected and handed over to the victim’s next of kin, could

open the door ‎for the latter’s consent not to execute the death penalty over the accused. The initiative of ‎the three film actors has been widely welcomed by the public, and young Iranian ‎journalists who have expressed public gestures of support. This public enthusiasm and ‎response to collect money for the Diye has been so wide that the victim’s relatives agreed ‎to provide the necessary consent before the Diye amount had been collected; a move that ‎can prevent the execution of Shojayi.‎

Under these circumstances, it was surprising that the names of the three well-known and ‎liked Iranian artists made news when they were summoned by a court whose prosecutor ‎had pretty harsh words for the good Samaritans. “By opening a joint account, these ‎individuals wanted to impress upon people to sympathize with the convicted criminal, ‎whose punishment remains the Ghesas” (loosely translated to mean ‘eye-for-an-eye ‎punishment’ as prescribed in Islam), the prosecutor announced.‎

Shamloo, the prosecutor of the first bench of Tehran’s criminal court added, “A ‎newspaper published a news report about the sympathy of journalists and cinema actors ‎for a convicted criminal by opening a joint bank account, an act that is illegal and which ‎is why the court issued a freeze on the bank account.”‎

Iran’s official state news agency, ISNA, reported that in addition to freezing the bank ‎account, the prosecutor had summoned the three cinema stars to learn of the “basis on ‎which they had opened the account.”‎

Following the publication of this news, Jame Jam Online website reported that Tehran’s ‎deputy prosecutor, judge Fakhreddin Jaafarzadeh announced that the bank account had ‎been frozen because it was not clear who was its owner.” At the same time, he denied ‎reports that three actors had been summoned to the court, but in remarks that seemed to ‎substantiate the summons said, “If an artist were to be summoned to court, it would be for ‎information purposes, and not as suspects.” ‎

But perhaps most surprising were his comments that appeared to be threatening the ‎artists, even though he made some positive remarks about them by saying that artists ‎enjoy greater respect than the accusations that have been flouted against them.” He added ‎that, “Even if it is established that a group of artists are the owners of this bank account, ‎they shall be investigated and it shall be assumed that they are not aware of the special ‎laws that were passed in 1997 by the State Expediency Council which have strengthened ‎the punishments against corruption, embezzlement, and misappropriation and which ‎carry punishments ranging from one to seven years of prison.” ‎