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Iran : Fear of imminent execution

NCRI – Amnesty International has delivered a statement about an imminent execution

PUBLIC                AI Index: MDE 13/100/2006          12 September 2006

Fear of imminent execution

IRAN                Shahla Jahed (f), aged 36

Shahla Jahed is once again facing imminent execution, after the Supreme Court reportedly upheld her death sentence for the second time. She was sentenced to death for murdering her husband’s first wife in 2002. She may have been coerced into confessing to the murder. 

Shahla Jahed, a "temporary" wife of Nasser Mohammad-Khani, a former striker for the Iranian national football team and former manager of a team in Tehran, stands accused of stabbing to death Laleh Saharkhizan, her husband’s “permanent” wife, on 9 October 2002. She was initially sentenced to death in June 2004 and an appeal by her relatives, at the time, was rejected and the judges of Branch 15 of the Supreme Court upheld the sentence. Shahla Jahed’s lawyer reportedly wrote a letter to the Head of the Judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, requesting a review of the execution order in view of the fact that Shahla Jahed’s case had not been properly investigated. In November 2005 the Head of the Judiciary reportedly ordered a stay of execution so that the case could be re-examined.

On 11 September 2006, the judges of Branch Seven of the Supreme Court reportedly upheld Shahla Jahed’s death sentence by a majority vote. Her lawyer reportedly confirmed that the Supreme Court’s ruling had been written and endorsed and that both Shahla Jahed and the family of Laleh Saharkhizan would be formally informed of the decision on 13 September.

Shahla Jahed was said to have confessed to the murder of Laleh Saharkhizan during the initial investigation, but during her trial consistently upheld her innocence. In December 2004, on being told of a previous Supreme Court ruling in the case, Shahla Jahed reportedly said, “Everyone knows the conditions under which I confessed.”

The prosecution reportedly claimed that Shahla Jahed had murdered Laleh Saharkhizan out of jealousy. Nasser Mohammad-Khani was himself initially suspected of complicity in the murder and jailed for some months, but was reportedly released.  

Amnesty International is concerned that Shahla Jahed’s confession may have been made under duress.  

Under Iranian law, men and women can have both "permanent" and "temporary" marriages. In a temporary marriage, men and women can commit to be married for a certain period of time, after which the marriage is null and void.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases as the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The organization has recorded 108 executions in Iran so far this year, including those of two women, although the true figure may be much higher.