Iran delays execution of woman who killed her alleged rapist

Posted at 3:07 PM, Oct 01, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-01 15:07:41-04

The hanging of an Iranian woman, convicted of murder in a killing that human rights groups called self-defense against her rapist, has been delayed for 10 days, according to Amnesty International.

Reyhaneh Jabbari, 26, was sentenced to death for the 2007 killing of Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a former employee of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security.

The United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights says that the killing was an act of self-defense against a rapist and that Jabbari never received a fair trial.

On Wednesday, Amnesty International said in a statement that Jabbari had been transferred to a prison where, according to a message from her mother on Facebook, she was set to be executed on September 30.

But at the last minute, the execution was delayed for 10 days, the rights group said, “possibly in response to the public outcry after her mother’s post about her scheduled execution.” In the post, Jabbari’s mother wrote that she could “collect the body” after the execution.

Amnesty International said Jabbari was convicted of murder after “a flawed investigation and unfair trial.” The United Nations and international human rights groups have taken up Jabbari’s cause.

A Facebook page dedicated to saving Jabbari from execution has been created, with more than 14,000 likes.

The U.N. has said Sarbandi hired Jabbari — then a 19-year-old interior designer — to work on his office. Jabbari stabbed Sarbandi after he sexually assaulted her, the U.N. has said.

Jabbari was held in solitary confinement without access to her lawyer and family for two months, Amnesty International said in a statement. She was tortured during that time.

“Amnesty International understands that, at the outset of the investigation, Reyhaneh Jabbari admitted to stabbing the man once in the back, but claimed she had done so after he had tried to sexually abuse her,” the rights group said. “She also maintained that a third person in the house had been involved in the killing. These claims, if proven, could exonerate her but are believed never to have been properly investigated, raising many questions about the circumstances of the killing.”

The family of Sarbandi could forgive his killer and agree to stay the execution, an option available under Iran’s Islamic penal code.

Iranian Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi has joined scores of Iranian artists and musicians calling for a halt to the execution. In an open letter, Farhadi asked the victim’s family to pardon Jabbari.

Rights groups have criticized the Islamic Republic of Iran for a surge in executions under Hassan Rouhani, in his first year as President.

According to the United Nations, Iran has executed at least 170 people this year. In 2013, Iran executed more people than any other country with the exception of China, the world’s most populous nation.