Zoroastrian penal law II: Substantive law and law of procedure
In the first essay concerning Zoroastrian penal legal tradition we established two theories of punishments, one secular and one religious. Basing on these results we now turn to the substantive law and law of procedure. Zoroastrian penal law distinguishes different types of crimes and sins (framan, agrift, oyrist, ardus, khwar, bazay, yat, tanapuhl) according to the severity of each crime. Some of these categories (agrift, oyrist) reflect ancient tradition going back to remote antiquity. The delinquents of the capital crimes were called 'margarzan' (worthy of death) who offended the basic norms of Zoroastrian ethics and ritual or threatened the political interests of the state. Since every crime was enlisted in one of the above categories, they were generic terms. Criminal procedure was either accusatorial or inquisitorial, depending on the nature of each crime. In cases of importance the king passed the judgement, never, however, without the assistance of the priestly class. Jails served to prevent the accused to flee, although he could be released on bail. Punishments were severe, including several types of capital punishment such as crucifixion, stoning, beheading by the sword and burning. As the Syriac Acts of Martyrs show members of non-Zoroastrian minority groups, above all Christians, were prosecuted by the means of criminal law. In the forthcoming third part of the series of essays we examine the impact of modernity on the Zoroastrian legal tradition.
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