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Iran must halt imminent execution of convicted juvenile offender

Amnesty International is urgently calling on the Iranian authorities to halt the imminent execution of Mohammad Reza Haddadi, who could face death by hanging as soon as Wednesday 7 July for a murder he allegedly committed when he was 15 years old. Mohammad Reza Haddadi’s family were told by judicial officials on 4 July that they should arrange a last visit to their son before he is executed in the early hours of 7 July at Adelabad prison in the city of Shiraz. “Mohammad Reza Haddadi must not be executed for a murder that he is alleged to have committed when only 15 years old,” said Malcolm Smart, Director of the Middle East and North Africa programme at Amnesty International. “The Iranian authorities must immediately cease executing convicted juvenile offenders, in breach of international law.” Convicted juvenile offenders have previously been executed without prior warning to their lawyers, although Iranian law requires that their lawyers receive 48 hours' notice. Mohammad Reza Haddadi was sentenced to death in 2004 for murder.  He was sentenced to qesas-e nafs, or execution for the murder of Mohammad Bagher, who was killed while driving between Shiraz and Kazeroun, a town south of Shiraz. He confessed to the killing initially but during the trial he retracted this confession and said he had made it because his two co-accused said they would give his family money if he did so.He then denied that he had taken any part in the murder and his co-defendants are said to have since supported his claims of innocence and withdrawn their testimony implicating him in the murder. Despite this, his death sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court in July 2005. Since then, his execution has been scheduled several times – for October 2008, when it was stayed on the order of the Head of the Judiciary, and then for 27 May and 16 July 2009. “This constant and repeated threat of imminent execution hanging over Mohammad Reza Haddadi, and the fear and anguish that this is causing him and his family is no less than a form of torture” said Malcolm Smart. “The threat of execution must be lifted now, once and for all.” The death penalty is used for a wide range of offences in Iran, and is still applicable to those who are convicted of committing a capital offence while under the age of 18.