By Max Bartels
Impunity Watch Reporter, The Middle East
A 26-year-old woman, Reyhaneh Jabbari, was hanged on Saturday after she was sentenced to death for murder. The execution has human rights groups questioning the validity of the trial because the woman claimed self-defense and the man she killed was her alleged rapist. The woman was originally sentenced to death after her trial in 2009, where it was decided that she killed a man who was a former employee of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security. The U.N released a statement saying that the man hired Jabbari when she was 19 as an interior designer, to work on his office, and that Jabbari stabbed him after she was sexually assaulted.
Since her original conviction and sentence in 2009, Iran’s Supreme Court upheld the verdict, even in the face of considerable international pressure from the U.S. and Europe. The pressure did succeed in getting Jabbari a 10- day stay of execution in late September, and many were hopeful that some other punishment would be handed down during that time. Under the Iranian Islamic Penal Code, the courts of Iran follow “an eye for an eye” concept, when a murder is committed, the defendant, if found guilty must face the same fate. Also under the Iranian Islamic Penal code there is a provision for the family of the victim to show mercy to the defendant, if the family so wishes the death sentence can be lessened. Many were hoping that the family of the victim would exercise this right on Jabbari, due to the public outcry in support of her case. A Justice Minister of the Supreme Court even stated in early October that he predicted that the case would come to a “good ending”. However, the family stayed silent and the execution process resumed after the 10- day stay.
The Tehran state prosecutors office issued a statement attempting to curtail sympathy for Jabbari, and lay out the facts of the case as they saw them. According to them Jabbari had repeatedly admitted to premeditated murder and had invented the rape charge in an attempt to divert the case from its course. The office laid out further evidence that Jabbari had texted a friend her intention to kill and had bought the knife used in the murder just a few days prior to the crime.
The execution has sparked renewed criticism of Iran and the new President, Rouhani, who was touted for his positions on bringing Iran out of isolation. The U.N. has documented the number of executions in the country at 531 this year, this is a marked increased from previous years and puts Iran at second in the world for recorded use of capital punishment, behind China. Secular voters in Iran are upset that domestic reform has taken a back seat to foreign policy under Rouhani. Others believe that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the judiciary, both still filled with hardline Islamists are increasing the rate of execution to make Rouhani look bad.
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