Iran executes teenager accused of killing “Iran’s strongest man”
A 17-year old convicted of killing an athlete known as “Iran’s strongest man” was publicly hanged in the city of Karaj, near Tehran on Wednesday.Alireza Molla-Soltani was sentenced to death last month for stabbing Ruhollah Dadashi, a popular athlete during a driving dispute on 17 July. The 17-year old said he panicked and stabbed Ruhollah Dadashi in self-defence after the athlete attacked him in the dark, according to local media reports.“The execution of a 17-year old is deeply shocking, particularly when carried out in public, which brutalises all those involved, including those who witness it,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.“Executing juvenile offenders – whatever their age at the time of execution - is strictly forbidden under international treaties that Iran has signed up to. It is high time for the Iranian authorities to take their international obligations seriously and immediately stop executing teenagers," she added. Alireza Molla-Soltani was hanged at around 4.55 am in Karaj’s Golshahr Square, where the incident happened.An official commenting afterwards said that Alireza Molla-Soltani was over 18 according to the Islamic calendar which has a shorter year and that there was no reason for the execution not to be carried out. Amnesty International has previously urged the Iranian authorities to halt the execution and to review Alireza Molla-Soltani’s case.The boy was arrested a day after Ruhollah Dadashi reportedly punched Alireza Molla-Soltani in the mouth and slammed him against the car while the two were arguing.Shortly after Alireza Molla-Soltani was arrested, a state prosecutor called for “a speedy resolution” of the case. A court in Karaj convicted the boy of “intentional murder” and on 20 August sentenced him to “retribution” by hanging in public. Iran’s Supreme Court upheld the death sentence on 11 September. “While we acknowledge the seriousness of the crime for which Alireza Molla-Soltani was convicted, hanging a minor for acting in what appears to be self-defence is wrong and legally dubious, ” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.According to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, international treaties to which Iran is a state party, sentencing someone under the age of 18 at the time of their offence to death is unlawful. Iran is one of the very few countries still to execute juvenile offenders. Two were executed in the southern port of Bandar Abbas in April this year. Amnesty International also received reports that a third, 16-year-old Hashem Hamidi, was executed near Hamidiya, Khuzestan province in April. The authorities did not announce his execution.Amnesty International has recorded over 400 executions this year, over 30 of which took place in public. At least 96 executions have been reported since the start of the month. Not all these executions have been acknowledged by the authorities.Iran contends that hanging for murder is not an execution but a form of personal “retribution” by the victim’s blood relatives, for which the state is not responsible. This contention is not accepted under international law, as any death at the hands of state officials following a court conviction is a form of state execution.