Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Iran: Death Penalty: Bahman SalimianPUBLIC AI Index: MDE 13/134/2008
11 September 2008
UA 252/08 Death Penalty
IRAN Bahman Salimian, now aged 27; juvenile offender
Juvenile offender Bahman Salimian is at imminent risk of being executed. He was sentenced to qesas (retribution) by Branch 33 of the Supreme Court for the murder of his grandmother, committed in 1996 when he was 15 years old. His execution had been scheduled to take place on 28 August 2008 in Esfahan prison, central Iran. The execution was halted by the judicial authorities on 25 August to allow for furtherreconciliation attempts in order to negotiate a pardon from the only relative who still insists that the execution is to go ahead.
Throughout his trial, Bahman Salimian repeatedly claimed that his 70 year-old grandmother had talked of committing suicide so he killed her to minimise her suffering. On hearing Bahman Salimian's unusual motive for the murder the trial judge ordered that Bahman Salimian be psychologically assessed. Experts concluded that he was suffering from a psychological disorder and, accordingly, the judge sentenced him to five years’ imprisonment and the payment of diyeh (financial compensation, also called ‘blood money’) to be paid by his parents. Some members of the grandmother’s family appealed the sentence and demanded the death sentence for Bahman Salimian’s crime and Branch 33 of the Supreme Court overturned the lower court’s verdict and he was sentenced to qesas.
On 25 August, the Head of the Judiciary of Esfahan province, Gholam Reza Ansari, announced that Bahman Salimian’s execution was to be suspended as two of his uncles had pardoned him. Gholam Reza Ansari ordered the relevant officials to try as hard as possible to obtain the pardon of the remaining uncle, which would spare Bahman Salimian from execution.
Bahman Salimian has spent the last 12 years in prison due to the disagreement within the victim’s family regarding his pardon or execution. Under the Iranian qesas law, if one member of the victim’s family refuses to pardon the accused and, the other family members have received the appropriate amount of diyeh, then the death sentence will be implemented.
Since 1990 Iran has executed at least 37 juvenile offenders, eight of them in 2007 and six so far in 2008.
The execution of juvenile offenders is prohibited under international law, as stated in Article 6 (5) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), to which Iran is a state party to and so has undertaken not to execute anyone for crimes committed when they were under 18.
In Iran a convicted murderer has no right to seek pardon or commutation from the state, in violation of Article 6(4) ICCPR. The family of a murder victim have the right either to insist on execution, or to pardon the killer and receive financial compensation.
For more information about executions of child offenders in Iran, please see: Iran: The last executioner of children (MDE 13/059/2007, June 2007), http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engmde130592007
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Persian, Arabic, English or your own language:
- expressing concern that Bahman Salimian is at risk of execution for a crime committed when he was under 18;
- calling on the authorities to commute his death sentence;
- reminding the authorities that Iran is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which prohibit the use of the death penalty against people convicted of crimes committed when they were under 18