Panahi’s Lawyer Concerned About Severe, Disproportionate Sentence

Dec 22, 20100 comments

In an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Farideh Gheirat, filmmaker Jafar Panahi’s lawyer, shared her reaction to Panahi’s sentence.  “I consider this sentence extremely heavy, and I will definitely object to it in the allotted deadline, requesting an appeal…This sentence is too severe and the truth is that it does not correspond with his actions.  I wish and hope that the sentence would change in the next stage at the appeals court,” she told the Campaign. According to a sentence ruling which was served to Pahani and his lawyer on 18 December, he was sentenced to six years in prison, and “to complete his punishment,” he was sentenced to “20 years’ ban on social rights such as making films, writing any type of screen play, traveling abroad, and interviewing with media and national and international publications,” on charges of “assembly and collusion and propagation against the regime.” Asked about where in the Islamic Penal Code depriving someone from their professional activities for 20 years is allowed, Farideh Gheirat told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that, “In the law, there is no specific discussion about artists, but the law allows for “complementary” and “completing” punishments.  But I believe that this sentence does not correspond with his actions at all.  His main punishment is six years in prison, and the complementing punishment is deprivation of his profession for 20 years.” ISNA’s news article about Jafar Panahi’s sentence “I have met him and he is naturally very upset and does not accept this easily.  He said ‘What should I do [for a living] now?’” said Panahi’s lawyer about her client’s mental state. According to ISNA, another film director, Mohammad Rasoulof, has also been served his sentence ruling of six years in prison on charges of “assembly and collusion and propagation against the regime.”  Confirming his sentence, his lawyer told ISNA: ““We will object to the issued verdict within the allotted time…Mr. Rasoulof is presently making a film which is pending license at the Ministry of Islamic Guidance.” Jafar Panahi is a highly acclaimed film director who is the winner of the Cannes Film Festival’s Camera d’Or Award and Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion Award for his films “White Balloon,” and “The Circle.”  He was first arrested on 30 July 2009, when he and another group of filmmakers attended Tehran’s Behesht-e Zahra Cemetery to pay respect to those who were killed during the post-election protests.  He was released a few days later.  Jafar Panahi was arrested again on 1 March 2010 at his home, along with 18 family members and friends.  His family and friends were released after a few days, but he remained in detention until 25 May 2010, when he was released on bail of $200,000, following reactions from the international arts community.  He has been invited to serve as judge at several international film festivals since his release, but he has not been allowed to leave the country due to his travel ban. Jafar Panahi has directed several films such as “White Balloon,” “Crimson Gold,” “The Circle,” and “Offside.”  Panahi started his career as an assistant to world-renowned Iranian director, Abbas Kiarostami.