Verdicts for Abbas Lesani, a political activist imprisoned in Ward 7 of Ardebil Prison, was increased from 8 years in prison and exile during the original trial, to 15 years in prison and 2 years of exile in the 1st branch of Ardebil District Court of First Instance, presided by Judge Nasser Atebati.
According to the Campaign for the Defense of Political and Civil Prisoners, Ardebil Court of Appeals, Branch 1, headed by Judge Nasser Atebati, former Prosecutor and current Chief Justice of Ardebil Province, increased the sentences for prominent Turkish political activist Abbas Lesani from 8 years to 15 years in prison, and 2 years of exile.
According to the report issued on Tuesday, October 1st, 2019, the new sentencing was communicated to Mr. Lesani’s lawyer.
A source familiar with the ruling told Campaign Reporter: “Based on the rulling that are issued by the first branch of the Ardebil Court of Appeal, Mr. Lesani was sentenced to 10 years in prison and two years in exile in city of Yazd on charges of “forming a group to disrupt national security” and has been sentenced to five years in prison for “acting against national security for inciting and encouraging Turkish nationals in West Azerbaijan Province through lectures and interviews with the regime’s enemy media”.
It is said that 10 years of this sentence is for the charges of “forming a group intended to disrupt the security of the country” based on Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code.
An informed source on the appeal court told the Campaign, “During the four-hour hearing run by two court clerks, Balal Mozaffari and Mohammad Shahbazzadeh, Mr. Lesani and his lawyer, Sayeed Mohammad Reza Faghihi, presented defense statements that protested the verdict issued at the first branch of Ardabil Revolutionary Court.”
According to the informed source, Abbas Lesani told the court: “This false accusation has so far been a scenario that the Intelligence Bureau interrogators described in detail at the time of the interrogation. I have told them already and telling you now – whatever the verdict is, even if it is life in prison or execution, I will not back down one bit. If there is only one living cell left in my body, it will fight for the people of Azerbaijan.”
At the end of trail, the first branch of the Ardebil Revolutionary Court, chaired by Judge Khodadadi, sentenced Mr. Lesani to 8 years in prison and 2 years of exile to Yazd.
Even though Abbas Lesani was acquitted of the charges in his case, the campaign sources said that he was “convicted, in a controversial move, on the basis of new charges.”
This prisoner in Ardebil Central Prison went on a hunger strike to protest the prison authorities’ refusal to give him access to the summary of his case file on Monday, May 27th, 2019. On June 15th, 2019, after his second court hearing, he ended his hunger strike conditionally.
Faced with accusations of “forming a Gamag group”, “acting against national security”, and “propaganda against the system”, he said in his second court hearing, “The judicial authority is mistaken in defining the movement and the organization. The National Movement of Azerbaijan is a movement based on the people of Azerbaijan to gain the rights of the nation. The history of the events and activities of the national movement shows that it has been and will be fully consistent with the civil and peaceful movements”.
Mr. Lesani had previously been sentenced to ten months imprisonment in a preliminary court trial and was charged with “propaganda against the regime and in favor of opposition groups” through a speech at the funeral of Hassan Damirchi, the Azerbaijani musician.
Subsequently, the Branch 26 of the Court of Appeal of East Azerbaijan Province, chaired by Judge Mikayel Khobiarpour, sentenced Mr. Lesani to 10 months of imprisonment on the charge of “propaganda against the system in favor of opposition groups”.
There have been many protests and objections to this arrest in various socio-political, cultural-sports, and human rights areas.