Iran Juvenile Executions: Amnesty International Protests Death Sentence Of Juveniles

06/06/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A week after the execution of a 22-year-old Iranian woman, Delara Darabi, two more controversial cases have emerged to contribute to the country's highly criticized record of illegal (by international law) juvenile executions: Amir Khaleqi and Safar Angooti. However, according to the Guardian, the two juveniles' executions have reportedly been put on hold at the last minute.

Amnesty International is expressing particular outrage with how quickly the Iranian government sought to execute the two youths in the aftermath of the Delara Darabi execution last week, stating in a press release: "The scheduling of these executions, just days after the appalling execution of Delara Darabi, shows that the Iranian authorities have total disregard for international law which unequivocally bans the execution of those convicted of crimes committed under the age of 18."

Darabi became an iconic figure during her 5-year stint on death row, underscoring the egregious and brutal nature of the Iranian penal system and drawing international attention and support. According to the Independent:

Ms Darabi - dubbed The Prisoner of Colours for the love of painting she developed whilst on death row - was convicted for murdering her father's wealthy cousin in September 2003, when she was just 17. Although she initially confessed to the crime, she later said she had been persuaded to take the blame by her older boyfriend Amir Hossein. It was in fact Mr Hossein who had killed the rich relation, she said, to get the money.

The 19-year-old allegedly told Ms Darabi that she could save him from the gallows by confessing and that would be no risk to her own life because she was still a minor. The young woman complied. Her boyfriend was sentenced to 10 years in prison for complicity to murder; she was sentenced to death.

The particulars of the Amir Khaleqi and Safar Angooti cases are highlighted in Amnesty International's press release:

According to Mohammad Mostafaie, the lawyer of the child offenders facing execution today, Amir Khaleqi killed a man during a fight when he was drunk. He was 16 years old at the time. Amir does not remember how the incident happened but was so remorseful that he turned himself into the police. He was eventually convicted, despite the court taking into consideration that he was intoxicated, and a juvenile offender.

The Head of Judiciary granted a two-month stay of execution for Amir in February which has now expired and his execution is scheduled to take place on Wednesday 6 May.

Safar Angooti was convicted of murder at age 17. According to the newspaper Etemad, in April 2008 he stabbed a rival suitor who was talking to a girl he liked and was sentenced to death. Safar claimed that he had killed the man but not intentionally.

According to reports their lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaie, was himself arrested yesterday when he left a meeting with Judiciary Spokesman, Ali Reza Jamshidi, in which he tried to get the executions halted. He was released after a few hours.

Amnesty also points out that Iran has already executed two juveniles so far this year -- making it is the only country in the world to have done so since 2007 -- and that at least 135 other juveniles are known to currently be sitting on death row.

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