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.”