Aug 21, 2008

World - Iranian Execution & debate over minors

TEHRAN — Iran has executed a 20-year-old man who was sentenced to death for a murder he committed when he was 15, reviving an international debate over its punishment of minors.
The man, Reza Hejazi, was hanged Tuesday in a prison in the central city of Isfahan for stabbing a man in a fight in 2003, according to the daily newspaper Etemad. Four others, including two drug smugglers in Tehran and a rapist and a drug smuggler in Isfahan, were also hanged on Tuesday, Iranian news agencies reported.
That brings the number of executions in Iran to more than 190 this year, according to Amnesty International. Last year, Iran executed 317 people, more than any other country except China, the organization says.
Human rights groups condemned Mr. Hejazi’s execution, arguing that he was a minor at the time of the murder and therefore fit the category of a juvenile offender.
Iran is a signatory to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, neither of which allows the execution of anyone under the age of 18.
However, according to Iran’s Islamic law, boys are punishable from the age of 15 and girls from the age of 9. Iranian officials say they wait until offenders reach 18 before they carry out death sentences.
Amnesty International says that Mr. Hejazi’s hanging brings the number of executions of juvenile offenders in Iran to five this year. Some 36 have been executed since 1990 and 132 are on the death row, the group says.
“The execution of juvenile offenders is prohibited under international law,” the group said Tuesday in a statement. As a party to the international conventions, Iran has agreed “not to execute anyone for crimes committed when they were under the age of 18,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, the judiciary summoned two prominent actors, Parviz Parastui and Ezzatolah Entezami, and a movie director, Kiumars Poorahmad, for trying to collect money to help Behnood Shojaee, who is on death row for a murder he committed when he was 17.
The three have been asking people for donations to save Mr. Shojaee’s life. They said the victim’s family had agreed to spare him in return for a generous amount of money, called blood money under Iran’s law.
The bank account the three had set up for the donations was blocked by the judiciary.
A judiciary official, Mohammad Hossein Shamloo, told the ISNA news agency on Tuesday that the three were summoned after relatives of the victim filed a complaint denying that they had agreed to forgive the murder in return for blood money.

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