Iran Must Halt Execution of Footballer's 'Temporary' Wife

November 30, 2010

Update (12/1/10): Sadly, Iran carried out the execution of Shahla Jahed today. Please join us in taking action to prevent further executions around the world. The death penalty is the ultimate, irreversible denial of human rights and must be abolished.

A file picture taken June 6, 2004 shows Iranian Khadijeh Shahla Jahed during her trial in Tehran AFP/Getty Images

Shahla Jahed, the “temporary” wife of a prominent Iranian football player, could be executed as early as Wednesday morning.

Iranian media reports indicate that her lawyer received official notice that Khadijeh Jahed, known as “Shahla,” is to be executed in Evin prison in Tehran at dawn tomorrow.

Jahed, who had contracted a temporary marriage with Nasser Mohammad-Khani, a former striker for the Iranian national football team, was convicted of stabbing to death her husband’s permanent wife.

Shahla Jahed must be spared execution. The death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights and the most extreme form of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.  As well, in this case, there are good reasons to suggest that she may have been wrongly convicted.  She should not be made to pay with her life.

Under Iranian law, men and women can marry either permanently or temporarily. In a temporary marriage, men and women can commit to be married for an agreed period of time, after payment of money to the woman. Men can have up to four permanent wives and any number of temporary wives. Women can only be married to one man at a time.

Jahed was initially sentenced to death by the Tehran General Court in June 2004.  She withdrew her “confession” in court, but her sentence was upheld by the Iranian Supreme Court.

There are strong grounds to believe that Shahla Jahed did not receive a fair trial, and may have been coerced into making a ‘confession’ during months of detention in solitary confinement. She retracted that confession at her trial but the court chose to accept it as evidence against her.

Jahed’s lawyer had requested a review of the execution order, arguing that Jahed’s case had not been properly investigated.

In November 2005, the Head of the Judiciary ordered a stay of execution so that the case could be re-examined but the following year it was upheld.

In early 2008, the Head of the Judiciary again overturned the verdict and ordered a fresh investigation, citing “procedural flaws.”  However, Jahed was again sentenced to death in February 2009 by the General Court.
On September 13 of this year, Jahed wrote to the current Head of the Judiciary, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, asking for a final decision in her case.

In Iran, a person convicted of murder has no right to seek pardon or commutation from the state, in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Iran is a state party. The family of a murder victim has the right either to insist on execution, or to pardon the killer and receive financial compensation (diyeh).