TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran hanged Saturday a woman convicted of murdering a former intelligence officer she claimed had tried to sexually assault her, defying international appeals for a stay of execution.
Reyhaneh Jabbari, 26, who had been on death row for five years, was put to death at dawn, the official IRNA news agency quoted the Tehran prosecutor’s office as saying.
A message posted on the homepage of a Facebook campaign set up to try to save her noted the “sad news” of her death, adding the words “Rest in Peace” alongside pictures of Jabbari as a young child.
Amnesty International said in a statement issued late Friday that the young Iranian woman, an interior designer, was due to be executed for the 2007 stabbing of Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi.
Iranian actors and other prominent figures had appealed for a stay of execution, echoing similar calls in the West.
Iran’s judiciary had given several deadlines for Sarbandi’s family to spare Jabbari under an Syariah law provision that allows a death sentence for murder to be commuted to a prison sentence with the agreement of the victim’s family.
But relatives of Sarbandi, a 47-year-old surgeon who earlier worked for the intelligence ministry, refused to grant clemency, demanding, according to Iranian media, that Jabbari tell “the truth.”
A UN human rights monitor said the killing came in self-defence after Sarbandi tried to sexually abuse Jabbari, and that the condemned woman’s trial in 2009 had been deeply flawed.
But a medical report, prepared for the judiciary and quoted by IRNA in its Saturday dispatch, said Sarbandi was stabbed in the back and that the killing had been premeditated.
Efforts for a commuted jail sentence had intensified in recent weeks but Sarbandi’s family and Jabbari remained at loggerheads over the circumstances of the killing.
According to Jalal Sarbandi, the victim’s eldest son, Jabbari testified that a man was present in the apartment where his father was killed but she had refused to reveal his identity.
He told two of Iran’s reformist daily newspapers, Shargh and Etemad, in April that his family “would not even contemplate mercy until truth is unearthed,” about her alleged accomplice.
Jabbari’s mother was allowed to visit her for one hour on Friday, Amnesty said, a custom that tends to precede executions in Iran.