Juvenile offender faces imminent execution in Iran
Delara Darabi, an Iranian woman convicted of murdering a relative when she was 17, is reported to be facing execution in the next few days. Her lawyer, Abdolsamad Khorramshahi, received a phone call from Delara Darabi on 21 March in which she said that she had heard rumours in Rasht Prison that she would be executed in the coming days. Delara Darabi has been detained at Rasht Prison in northern Iran since her arrest in 2003. According to information received by Amnesty International, Delara Darabi is facing execution between 18 and 20 April. Amnesty International has urged the Iranian authorities to commute her death sentence. Iran is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which prohibit the use of the death penalty against juvenile offenders - people convicted of crimes committed when they were under 18. The Iranian authorities have executed at least 42 juvenile offenders since 1990, eight of them in 2008 and one on 21 January 2009. Amnesty International has also called for a re-trial for Delara Darabi in proceedings that meet international standards for fair trial and that are in line with the Convention of the Rights of the Child. In September 2003, a then 17-year old Delara Darabi and her 19-year-old boyfriend, Amir Hossein Sotoudeh, broke into the house of her father's 58-year-old female cousin, Mahin, to commit a burglary. Amir Hossein is alleged to have killed the woman during the burglary. Delara Darabi initially confessed to the murder in order to protect her boyfriend from execution, claiming that he had told her that as she was 17 she could not be executed. She subsequently retracted her confession. Delara Darabi was initially sentenced to death by Branch 10 of the General Court in Rasht on 27 February 2005. In January 2006, the Supreme Court found "deficiencies" in the case and sent it to a children’s court in Rasht for retrial. Following two trial sessions in January and June 2006, Delara Darabi was sentenced to death for a second time by Branch 107 of the General Court in Rasht. Amir Hossein Sotoudeh was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for complicity in the murder. Both received sentences of three years' imprisonment and 50 lashes for robbery, and 20 lashes for an "illicit relationship". Delara Darabi’s death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court on 16 January 2007. In March 2007, her lawyer filed an appeal against her death sentence. Her death sentence was confirmed in April 2007 following a further review by Branch 7 of the Supreme Court, after which the verdict was sent to the Head of the Judiciary for consideration. In December 2007, as a result of procedural flaws having been identified, the Head of Judiciary reportedly returned the case to Rasht for a further review. It is not known if this has been completed though normal legal avenues in her case appear now to have been exhausted. Human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaie was reported to have visited Delara Darabi in prison in February 2008. She was said to be very depressed. Domestic and international concerns about her situation appear to have resulted in repeated and slow-moving legal reviews, some initiated by senior judicial officials. It nevertheless appears that Delara Darabi can now escape execution only if the victim’s entire family accept payment of diyeh or blood money. One member of the family is said to be undecided.