Amnesty International has expressed concern that recent 'confessions' by five women and seven men on Iranian state television may result in them facing the death penalty.
On 6 August the 12 detainees appeared in a documentary on Iranian state television channel IRTV1 called 'Terror Club'. The documentary showed them 'confess' to alleged involvement in the killings of five Iranian nuclear scientists and academics as far back as 2010.
The group said they had received weeks of military and intelligence training in Israel before carrying out the assassinations in Iran. The documentary did not show any evidence to support these claims, nor did it state whether they have been tried.
Televised 'confessions' have repeatedly been used by the authorities in Iran to incriminate individuals in custody. Many have later retracted these 'confessions', stating that they were coerced to make them, sometimes under torture or other ill-treatment.
Amnesty International said: “The use of televised 'confessions' grossly undermines a person’s right to a fair trial. Such ‘confessions’ are particularly disturbing in cases like this one where defendants are accused of crimes which could lead to their being sentenced to death and executed.
“We call on the Iranian authorities to ensure that these 12 men and women receive fair trials in accordance with human rights law, and to remove the threat of execution immediately.”
Amnesty is also concerned that the 12 detainees have been held incommunicado since June 2012, without access to their relatives or to lawyers.
Incommunicado detention facilitates torture or other ill-treatment which may be used to coerce a detainee into making a 'confession' which may subsequently be used as evidence in court. Prolonged incommunicado detention can itself amount to torture, says Amnesty