Zahra Bahrami

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Zahra Bahrami, also spelled Sahra Baahrami (Persian: زهرا بهرامی‎‎; (1965-01-25)January 25, 1965–January 29, 2011(2011-01-29) (aged 46)) (Previous name: Zahra Mehrabi), was a dual Dutch and Iranian citizen who was executed in Iran, after being convicted by the Islamic Revolutionary Court of drug trafficking.

She was initially arrested in December 2009 for participating in the Ashura protests and charged with national security offenses and being a member of Kingdom Assembly of Iran. But according to the Iranian Judicatory, a subsequent search of her house uncovered 450 grams of cocaine, 420 grams of opium, and several forged passports. Subsequently, the Tehran prosecutors charged her with drug trafficking and being a member of an international drug-trafficking network, for which she was convicted. Bahrami also had a prior criminal record in the Netherlands. She had spent three years in jail in the Netherlands after trafficking 16 kilograms of cocaine after a flight from the Caribbean in 2003, and for forging passports in 2007.

In protest of her execution, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign affairs temporarily froze diplomatic contacts with Iran and resumed on February 18, 2011.

Early life[edit]

Bahrami was born in Tehran, Iran. She later moved to the Netherlands and became a Dutch citizen by naturalisation. However, she also retained her Iranian citizenship.[1] In one passport, she spelled her name Zahra Bahrami, while spelling it Sahra Baahrami in the other.[2] She worked as a professional belly dancer and maintained a second residence in London.[3] She had spent three years in jail in the Netherlands for drug trafficking and forging passports.[4]


In 2009, Bahrami traveled from the Netherlands to Iran, claiming that the purpose of her visit was to see one of her children. While participating in the Ashura protests of the 2009 Iranian elections on 27 December 2009, she was arrested, and held in Tehran's Evin Prison. Iranian prosecutors initially said she belonged to the militant monarchist group Kingdom Assembly of Iran, and charged her with setting up an anti-regime organization, and spreading anti-regime propaganda. She was never charged for these actions, and most other protesters were released in the coming days. Due to the two variant spellings of her name, the MFA was initially unable to confirm whether or not she was a Dutch citizen, and only resolved their confusion by late July 2010. Due to Iran not recognizing dual citizenship, Iran did not allow the Dutch consulate to provide legal assistance to her.[2]

Tehran prosecutors charged her with the capital crime of drug trafficking. Prosecutors charged that anti-drug police had uncovered 450 grams (16 oz) of cocaine and 420 grams (15 oz) of opium in a search of her house. Her daughter claimed in a media interview that the charges must be fabricated because Bahrami "did not even smoke cigarettes."[1] However, after Bahrami's execution, the Dutch current affairs TV programme Nieuwsuur reported on January 31 that documents in its possession show that Ms. Bahrami had been previously caught at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport with almost 16 kilograms of cocaine in her luggage, for which she was sentenced by a Dutch court to 3 years imprisonment in 2003, including one-year suspended sentence, and she had also been convicted of forging passports in 2007. Dutch authorities have since confirmed the new information.[4][5]

Prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh acted as Bahrami's defense attorney. However, on 28 August 2010, Sotoudeh's office was raided; it was unclear whether the raid had anything to do with Bahrami's case, or with Sotoudeh's other human rights activities.[6] Sotoudeh herself was arrested days later, and also imprisoned at Evin.[7] In January 2011, Soutodeh was sentenced to 6 years in prison for "acting against national security" and banned from working as a lawyer and leaving the country for 10 years.


Iran executed Bahrami by hanging at 5:00 AM local time on 29 January 2011 in the execution chamber at Evin Prison, making her the 66th person to receive capital punishment in Iran in 2011, after her appeal to Iran's Supreme Court was turned down. Her lawyer said she was shocked that the death sentence on the drugs charges had been carried out before an investigation on the security charges against her was even completed.[1]

In protest of her execution, the Dutch government froze contact with the Iranian government. The Dutch foreign minister Uri Rosenthal said he was "shocked, shattered by this act by a barbaric regime."[8] Ms. Bahrami's lawyers were not contacted by officials from the Dutch embassy in Tehran until two weeks before the verdict since the Netherlands only provides financial and legal support in cases of this kind if the death sentence has formally been pronounced and the defendant has appealed against the sentence.[9] The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran also protested her execution, quoting an unnamed "informed source" as saying that her interrogation was conducted by the "Iranian Intelligence Ministry’s Anti-Espionage Team" rather than narcotics trafficking officials, rendering nil the "possibility that her initial charges were drug-related."[10]

The Dutch-Iranian diplomatic ties were resumed on February 18, 2011.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Iran hangs Iranian-Dutch woman Sahra Bahrami", BBC News, 2011-01-29, retrieved 2011-01-30 
  2. ^ a b "Death sentence fears for Dutch-Iranian woman", Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 2010-08-24, retrieved 2010-08-25 
  3. ^ "ادامه وضعیت مبهم زهرا بهرامی", Radio Zamaneh, 2010-08-25, retrieved 2011-01-30 
  4. ^ a b Executed Bahrami previously convicted
  5. ^ "Iran rejects Dutch complaint over hanging". Reuters. 2011-02-01. 
  6. ^ "Inval bij advocate Bahrami in Teheran", NRC Handelsblad, 2010-08-31, retrieved 2011-01-30 
  7. ^ Advocaat Zahra Bahrami opgepakt in Teheran, 2010-09-07, retrieved 2011-01-30 
  8. ^ "Dutch freeze contacts with Iran over hanging". BBC News. 29 January 2011. Retrieved 29 January 2011. 
  9. ^ "Could the Dutch have stopped the hanging in Iran?", Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 2011-01-31, retrieved 2011-02-03 
  10. ^ Lawyer In Shock Over Dutch-Iranian Client’s Execution: "Her Investigation Was Not Yet Complete", International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, 29 January 2011, retrieved 2011-02-03 
  11. ^ "Nederlandse ambassadeur terug naar Iran" ("Dutch ambassador back to Iran") on, February 18, 2011.

External links[edit]