Iran: Calls to save a doctor sentenced to death

Dr Hamid Ghareh-Hassanlou and his wife Farzaneh were convicted after a trial on 30 November. The radiologist is now facing execution. International doctors and medical associations are now mobilising to prevent the execution.

Dr Hamid Ghareh-Hassanlou now faces execution after arrest

Translated from the French and German versions

Update: 22 December 2022

There are conflicting reports about the fate of Hamid Ghare-Hassanlou. The German version of a petition calling for his release announces that the death sentence handed down should be commuted. This is also the information published on 21 December by Etemad, one of the few reformist and independent newspapers still authorised in Iran.

In response, the official agency of the Iranian Judicial Authority stated that "no final sentence has been passed" on Hamid Ghare-Hasanlou, leaving the fate of this doctor in doubt. The current policy in Iran is to retry some of the people sentenced to death: they have made examples by executing two people and sentencing a dozen to death, but they are about to retry one of them, and probably Hamid also and others. I will follow the developments and let you know if there are further updates about Hamid.

In early November, the couple were forcibly arrested in their home in Karaj, near Tehran, in front of their daughter. They were attending the funeral of Hadis Najafi; a young woman who was killed by police with six shots while demonstrating in September after the death of Mahsa Amini.

On their way back from the ceremony, the couple got caught in a traffic jam and found themselves on a side road near the spot where a Basiji - a member of the militia under the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps - had been killed.

The torture

According to a source quoted by Amnesty International, the authorities tortured the couple in order to extract a confession from Hamid Ghareh-Hassanlou while forcing his wife to provide incriminating statements against him.

Hamid's brother Hassan explained that Farzaneh was beaten until she finally confessed that her husband may have kicked the Basiji. "She fought back on the first day. On the second day they told her that they knew where her son was (...) and that if she did not confess that Hamid had kicked the victim, they would then arrest her son, who would suffer the same torture and perhaps be killed."

Farzaneh later recanted her statement and told the court that her confession had been coerced under torture. "This is the only evidence they have against Hamid," Hassan summarised. As a result of the torture, Hamid had to undergo surgery for internal bleeding caused by six broken ribs. When he was taken from the hospital and brought to his court hearing, he was still sedated.

The trial

The couple was convicted on 30 November in a class-action trial involving 15 people. At the Revolutionary Court in Alborz province, the authorities attributed the deadly attack on the Basiji to all the defendants. Hamid was among the five sentenced to death. Farzaneh received a 25-year sentence, without the possibility of receiving visits.

The couple's first two lawyers had abandoned the case after being threatened by intelligence agency personnel. Hamid and Farzaneh were therefore defended by a lawyer appointed by the authorities as a public defender. According to Hamid's brother, it was this lawyer who decided that Hamid was fit to stand trial, despite medical reports to the contrary.

"The coroner said that Hamid could not be present in court, that he could not even get a video call.' That's why he was not present at the first session in the trial, but they still brought him to the court for the second session." The trial lasted only a few moments. It was open to the public, but only media affiliated with the regime were allowed.

The petitions

Hooman Hosseini Nik, a Canadian radiologist, did his residency in Iran with Hamid Ghare-Hassanlou. He states that there is no evidence against the pair. He praises his friend as "a very ethical and professional doctor", "a humble person" and explains that Hamid and Farzaneh built three schools in remote communities in southern Iran.

"We are now working to save his life," said Saeed Zavareh, another doctor. The specialist in internal medicine, who has lived in Vancouver for 20 years, still has close contacts with Iran. He is trying to mobilise medical associations around the world. "We have heard that they are planning his execution before we can help him," he says.

Several petitions demand the release of the couple. Two petitions from have already collected over 143,000 signatures:

Another, shared on Twitter by Dr Mohammad K. Attari, is aimed specifically at doctors and health professionals.


  1. Global News – ‘Oppressions and injustice’: Canadians want fair trial for imprisoned Iranian philanthropists
  2. Amnesty International – Iran: Death penalty sought in sham trials
  3. Amnesty International – Iran : Action urgente, 28 personnes risquent l'exécution
  4. Radio Farda – Brother Of Iranian Doctor Handed Death Sentence Says Wife's Confession Came After She Was Tortured
  5. Dominik Metzger – Iran: When a friend is sentenced to death