Iran Executes Reyhaneh Jabbari For Killing Attempted Rapist, Angering Human Rights Orgs Worldwide
The U.S. government denounced on Saturday the heinous execution of an Iranian woman accused of killing her alleged rapist. Reyhaneh Jabbari, a 26-year-old interior designer, was hanged at dawn at the Gohardasht Prison, about 12 miles outside Tehran. Her murder trial, ensuing conviction, and inevitable execution received worldwide media attention, with human rights groups working for years for her pardon and release. Amnesty International has said Jabbari, who was sentenced to death in 2009, was the victim of a "deeply flawed" investigation in a country where women are routinely discriminated against in legal proceedings.
Jabbari was arrested in 2007 for fatally stabbing a 47-year-old Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a surgeon and former employee of Iran's intelligence ministry. Jabbari testified that she killed Sarbandi in self-defense, after he attempted to sexually assault her.
Although international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and the United Nations, argued that the act was in self-defense, Sarbandi's family claimed it was a premeditated murder. Jabbari allegedly made a confession to the murder in 2007, but human rights activists counter that it was made under duress. Jabbari was placed in solitary confinement without access to a lawyer for two months following her arrest.
According to The New York Times, Jabbari had a knife in her bag, purchased a few days before her meeting with Sarbandi. She testified that she bought the knife for protection. Police reported that the victim was stabbed in the back, and collapsed on the stairs running after Jabbari.
Amnesty International's Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, released a statement on Saturday following Jabbari's death, calling her execution a "bloody stain on Iran's human rights record" and alleging that Jabbari never received a fair investigation or trial:
The shocking news that Reyhaneh Jabbari has been executed is deeply disappointing in the extreme. ... Tragically, this case is far from uncommon. Once again Iran has insisted on applying the death penalty despite serious concerns over the fairness of the trial.
Department of State spokesperson Jen Psaki also released a statement condemning the execution and addressing the "serious concerns" of Iran's legal proceedings:
Iranian authorities proceeded with this execution despite pleas from Iranian human rights activists and an international outcry over this case. 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.
Following her death, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, posted an emotional statement from Jabbari's mother, Sholeh Pakravan, who said her daughter was "innocent like a sheep" and denounced Iran's judicial system:
Why my daughter should have been killed? Why? Why? Sarbandi, until the last day of my life, I will expose you. Sarbandi you made life for your children and my daughter miserable. ... Oh young girls, if they would come to physically abuse you, allow them to do so. Otherwise, your fate will be like my Reyhaneh. Your mother will be devastated. And then they will kill you.
According to Human Rights Watch, Pakravan was advised by prison officials on Friday to visit her daughter on death row to say goodbye for the final time.Iran has one of the highest rates of capital punishment in the world. There have been 585 executions in 2014 alone, according to data from the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center. Images: Getty Images, Amnesty International