The freelance reporter Sherwan Sherwani was brought before the Erbil Plains Investigation Court handcuffed and questioned on two cases, but he denied both cases and said, "I am innocent.
One of the two cases was filed on a complaint by an officer in the Erbil Rehabilitation Facility, according to Article 229 of the Iraqi Penal Code, allegedly threatened by Sherwani, the other charged with fraud and was brought to court under Articles 289 and 298.
Sherwani appeared before the Erbil Investigation Court first on April 23 yet he denied to testify unless he and his lawyers are informed about the ow cases in detail
He was arrested in 2020 and convicted guilty of disturbing national security of Iraqi Kurdistan Region IKR by Erbil criminal court on February 16, 2021, sentenced for six years in prison along with four other freelance reporters and civic activists among over 80 detainees of Badinan (Duhok province).
Bashdar Hassan, a member of the team of lawyers defending the activists in Badinan, said in a statement, "Sherwani appeared before the judge this afternoon (Tuesday, April 25). They removed his handcuffs in the judge's room and spoke freely.”
According to Bashdar Hassan, Sherwan denied both charges and said he is innocent.
Article 229 of the Iraqi Penal Code provides for assaults of civil servants on official duty, punishable by up to three years in prison.
According to Article 289 of the Iraqi Penal Code, anyone who forges an official document is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 15 years.
Hassan said the authorities allege that Sherwani signed a request to transfer them from Erbil to Sulaimaniyah on behalf of his prison mates.
"The prisoners of Badinan had agreed to agree on any decision related to their case and in case of punishment and separation and disagree on any issue, they have the same decision and can make decisions instead of each other," he added.
Badinan detainees, few of them tried and freed up today, are victims of a wave of arrests carried out by the Kurdish security forces Asayish since June 2020 in response to a series of major protests against delay in salaries of state employees, the KRG handling of the economic crisis resulting from disputes with Baghdad over oil production, export and corruption, and reached its peak under the Covid-19 pandemic.
The charges are based on Law 21 approved by parliament of Kurdistan, Iraq, in 2003 which revoked item 156 of Iraq penal code stating that "any one purposefully in any means involved in an action that harms security, stability and sovereignty Iraqi Kurdistan region's institutions and causes damage will face life imprisonment or short-term imprisonment."
Saddam Hussein regime used to repress opponents per this law especially the key opposition Kurdish parties of Kurdistan Democratic Party KDP and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan PUK, currently leading the KRG.
On March 16, 2023, three of the convicts in Badinan were released after completing their sentences and reducing their sentences according to a presidential decree, including (Ayaz Karam, Shivan Saeed and Hariwan Isa).
However, Sherwani and Gohdar Mohammed are still in prison and other cases have been opened against them.
The president of Iraqi Kurdistan Region IKRP per his power has reduced the conviction sentence for five of Badinan detainees from six years to two years and half, expected to be released last September.
However, the local authorities of the IKR have decided in February 2022 to punish Sherwani, though included in a presidential decree for reduction of sentence by 60%, by reducing his sentence only 50% following his comments of defiance.
Hassan said that the prosecutor general, the forensic investigator and the representative of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq UNAMI were present during the interrogation of Sherwani and the head of the Human Rights Commission discussed both cases with the judge for half an hour.