REYHANEH JABBARI: THE DOUBLE VICTIM

“Goodbye, dear Mum. All of my pains will finish early tomorrow morning. I’m sorry I cannot lessen your pain. Be patient. We believe in life after death. I’ll see you in the next world and I will never leave you again because being separated from you is the most difficult thing to do in the world.”

 

IRAN – Reyhaneh Jabbari, 26 years old, was arrested and sentenced to death in 2007 for the murder of Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a former employee of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence who she said tried to sexually abuse her during a visit in his office. She had always assured that the killing of Sarbandi was an act of self-defense with no premeditation.

Jabbari stayed seven long years in the death row waiting for her last day.

That day arrived on October the 25th. Jabbari was taken from her cell, handcuffed and was hanged in courtyard of Rajai Shahr Prison (near Tehran).

The sentence was carried out despite the international mobilization of various Nations and several NGOs. Not even the appeal of Iranian prominent figures and a global petition were able to save her from a cruel death. An Iranian petition to save Reyhaneh Jabbari from execution has been hacked twice, presumably by the agents of the Iranian government.

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Amnesty International (on the first line against the sentence) defined the investigation as “deeply flawed” and said that the trial did not take into consideration all the evidences. The NGO added that Jabbari confessed only after being subjected to pressure and inhuman torture. She was also forced to spend two months in solitary confinement where she did not have access to a lawyer or her family.

Amnesty added that Iran’s judicial authorities were reported to have pressured Jabbari to replace her lawyer, for a more inexperienced one, in an apparent attempt to prevent an investigation of her claims.

Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International, said: “This abhorrent execution had not to be allowed to take place, particularly when there are serious doubts about the circumstances of the killing. Instead of continuing to execute people, authorities in Iran should reform their judicial system, which dangerously relies on processes which fail to meet international law and standards for fair trial.”.

Jabbari’s death penalty sentence was not the first and it will not be the last to take place in Iran.

It is broadly known that the Iran Judicial system is a mixture of Sharia, Misogyny, corruption and use of torture. It is often used as the “legal way” for the Iranian Government to eliminate its opponents and as a mean of repression and terror against its own population.

Under Iran’s system of Sharia law, the convict could be spared if the victim’s family agrees to forgive him, or to accept a compensation of “blood money.” Both of those efforts were rejected for Jabbari.

Moreover, under Iranian law, Jabbari should have been in the clear for killing Sarbandi before being sentenced to death. The Iranian death penalty does not apply in a murder case if the murder is in accomplishment to another crime punishable by death (rape is one of these). Jabbari always assured that she killed Sarbandi after he attempted to rape her. However, the judges have a large discretion in interpreting the facts of the case, so that in this case Jabbari was found guilty.

 

In the conclusion of this article I would like to share two personal thoughts:

First, with the election of the President Rohani in May 2013, Iran seemed to be more open to a democratic change. However Jabbari’s sentence showed us that there is a huge gap between what “it seems” and what “it is”. Sadly, it will take time before Iran moves its first steps toward democracy.

(While I am writing this article, Ghoncheh Ghavami, an Iranian woman, is sentenced to one years of prison for trying to see a male volleyball game).

Second, I am not against Iran or its people; I am against every reality that dehumanizes a human being. It could be violence, it could be torture, or it could be a death sentence.

 

Francesco Stefani

 

 

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