Iran executes man arrested for murder as a minor after ‘grossly unfair trial’

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Iran on Wednesday executed a man who was arrested for murder at the age of 17, the judiciary said, despite calls for his life from human rights groups such as Amnesty International.

Arman Abdolali was executed at dawn in Rajai Shahr prison near Tehran, in accordance with the tit-for-tat “qesas” style of justice demanded by the victim’s family, the judiciary’s Mizan Online website said.

Amnesty International had called on 11 October for Iran to halt the execution of the 25-year-old who was arrested in 2014 and later convicted of murdering his girlfriend, Ghazaleh Shakour.

The London-based human rights group said he had been sentenced to death twice, but that the execution was halted both times following international protests.

He said Abdolali was sentenced to death for the first time in December 2015 after “a grossly unfair trial” by a court that “relied on ‘confessions’ tainted by torture” after Shakour’s disappearance the previous year.

He said Abdolali was sentenced to death again in 2020 in a retrial, where the court ruled the teenager responsible in the absence of evidence to the contrary, Amnesty reported.

“This young man was not a criminal,” Hadi Sadeghi, a judicial official, was quoted as saying by Iranian media in October.

“Like the victim, he came from a respectable family. In prison, Arman continued his studies to obtain a master’s degree in education,” he said.

“The two families knew each other and the victim and the accused intended to marry,” Sadeghi added.

International reviews

The body of Shakour, who was 19 years old at the time of his disappearance, was never found.

According to Mizan Online, the victim’s mother had said that she would forgive Abdolali if he revealed the location of her body.

UN human rights experts also called on Iran to stop the execution.

“International human rights law unequivocally prohibits the imposition of the death penalty on anyone under the age of 18,” said the Geneva-based Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Iran executed at least 246 people last year, retaining its place as the most prolific user of capital punishment in the region and second in the world after China, according to Amnesty.

Iran has often faced international criticism for executing people convicted of crimes committed when they were minors, in violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child that has been ratified by the Islamic republic.

In July, a senior Iranian official told AFP that the Islamic republic was doing everything possible to reduce the number of executions of juvenile offenders to zero.

“We are going to zero point,” said Majid Tafreshi of the state High Council for Human Rights, insisting that this was the “will of the system” of the country.

(AFP)