The U.S. State Department on Saturday joined other organizations condemning the execution of an Iranian woman convicted of killing a man she said she stabbed in self-defense during a sexual assault.
Despite a robust international campaign and social media outcry, Reyhaneh Jabbari — convicted of murder in the 2007 death of a former Iranian intelligence agent — was hanged at dawn Saturday in Tehran, according to Iran’s official news agency IRNA,
“There were serious concerns with the fairness of the trial and the circumstances surrounding this case, including reports of confessions made under severe duress,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement Saturday. “Iranian authorities proceeded with this execution despite pleas from human rights activists and an international outcry over this case.”
The United Nations, as well as Amnesty International, and other human rights groups had called for a halt to the execution, which was carried out after the country’s Supreme Court upheld the verdict.
“We join our voice with those who call on Iran to respect the fair trial guarantees afforded to its people under Iran’s own laws and its international obligations,” Psaki added.
The court ruling in her 2009 sentence rejected the claim of attempted rape, saying evidence — including the purchase of a knife two days earlier for protection — proved Jabbari plotted to kill Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a former employee of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security.
“The knife had been inflicted on the back of the deceased, indicating the murder was not self-defense,” the court ruling stated. A police investigation found Jabbari sent a text to a friend saying she would kill Sarbandi three days before the incident, according to IRNA.
Amnesty International said Jabbari confessed to the murder immediately after her 2007 arrest, citing self-defense after Sarbandi tried to sexually abuse her. The group called the investigation into Jabbari’s claims “deeply flawed.”
“This is another bloody stain on Iran’s human rights record,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa Program. “The news that Reyhaneh Jabbari has been executed is deeply disappointing in the extreme.”
A global campaign on social media to stop Jabbari’s execution drew tens of thousands of signatures. Iranian Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi joined scores of Iranian artists and musicians trying to halt her sentence and asking the victim’s family to pardon her.
Under Iranian law, in murder cases, Human Rights Watch says “the victim’s survivors have the right to claim retribution in kind, to pardon the alleged killer, or to accept compensation in exchange for giving up the right to claim retribution.”
Iranian news media reports say Sarbandi’s family insisted on their legal rights under the Islamic principle of “an eye for an eye” partly because Jabbari accused Sarbandi of being a rapist in a highly publicized media campaign.
So far this year, Iran executed about 250 people, according to the United Nations.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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