Iran execution postponement move welcomed
Amnesty International has welcomed a move by the Iranian authorities to postpone the execution of an Afghan national accused of commiting a murder while still a child. Abbas Hosseini was set to be executed on Monday, but judicial authorities in the city of Mashhad reportedly agreed to the postponement to allow more time to persuade the victim’s family to accept financial compensation in return for settling the case. No new date for the execution is known to have been set yet. Amnesty International urges the Iranian authorities to review his sentence so that he no longer faces the death penalty. As he was under 18 at the time of the alleged crime, his execution is strictly prohibited under international law. Abbas Hosseini was sentenced to death in June 2004 for the murder of a man whom he said had tried to rape him in July 2003. Hosseini was due to be executed on 1 May 2005, but was granted a one-week stay of execution at the last minute to give the victim’s family another opportunity to accept payment of diyeh, or blood money, a form of financial compensation for the blood relatives of the man who died. In the meantime, the Head of the Judiciary ordered the local judiciary in Mashhad not to proceed with the execution and Abbas Hosseini’s case was sent for review. On 27 April 2008, the Supreme Court sent the case for retrial on account of Hosseini’s age at the time of the crime. He was sentenced to death again on 5 August 2008 by the General Juvenile Court in Mashhad. This sentence was upheld on 29 December 2008 by Branch 33 of the Supreme Court and was given final approval by the Head of the Judiciary, paving the way for the execution which was to take place Monday. Amnesty International believes that the protracted judicial uncertainty surrounding the review and retrial of his case, and the repeated halting at the last minute of his scheduled executions, do nothing except compound his suffering, and that of his family. Since 1990, at least 41 alleged juvenile offenders have been executed in Iran and over 140 are known to remain on death row. At least three have been executed so far in 2009, in breach of Iran’s international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child which unequivocally ban the execution of juvenile offenders.