Iran executes alleged juvenile offender
Amnesty International has condemned the execution of an alleged juvenile offender in Iran on Thursday, at least the fifth such execution in 2009. Mosleh Zamani was hanged at Dizel Abad Prison at 4am, along with four other unidentified prisoners. He was sentenced to death in 2006 for allegedly raping his girlfriend when he was 17. "Once again, despite domestic and international calls for the Iranian authorities to uphold their international obligations, they have executed someone who was under 18 at the time of his alleged crime," said Philip Luther, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme. "How many more will die before Iran stops this dreadful practice?" Mosleh Zamani’s death brings the number of alleged juvenile offenders executed in Iran since 1990 to at least 46. Amnesty International was told that 200 people demonstrated outside the prison on Wednesday in protest at the executions. The organization has called since 2007 for Mosleh Zamani’s death sentence to be overturned. Iran is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Both of these prohibit the use of the death penalty against juvenile offenders, people under 18 at the time of the offence of which they have been convicted. Iran is one of very few countries in the world that still execute juvenile offenders. According to Amnesty International's information, Mosleh Zamani was convicted of abducting a woman several years older than him, with whom he was allegedly having a relationship, and raping her. His death sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court in July 2007. He may not have had adequate legal representation. Previously held in Sanandaj Prison in Kordestan province, Mosleh Zamani was recently transferred to Dizel Abad Prison in Kermanshah province, where he is believed to have been placed in solitary confinement on 11 December 2009, frequently a signal that execution is imminent. However, his execution was not carried out at that time, apparently for medical reasons. Amnesty International had also learnt that Mosleh Zamani's alleged victim had asked that his life be spared, stating that they had had consensual sex. The Appeal Court judge refused to take that into consideration, stating instead that Mosleh Zamani should be executed in order to "set an example" to other young Iranians. "It is all the more important in death penalty cases, where the accused faces an irreversible punishment, that international standards for fair trial are observed," said Philip Luther. "Time and again we hear of cases where proceedings do not appear to meet those standards." In many cases, juvenile offenders under sentence of death in Iran are kept in prison until they pass their 18th birthday, after which their executions are scheduled. In this period, some win appeals against their conviction. Others have their sentence overturned on appeal and are freed after a retrial. Some are reprieved by the family of the victim in cases of murder and are asked to pay diyeh (compensation) instead.Some, however, do not benefit from such measures and are consequently executed.