The execution of a 25-year-old man who has been sentenced to death after an unfair trial lacking basic safeguards would be both cruel and an aberration of justice, said Amnesty International today following an announcement that he will be hanged at Raja’i Shahr Prison in Karaj, near Tehran at dawn tomorrow.
Alireza Shahi was sentenced to death in June 2012 under the Islamic legal principle of qesas (retribution-in-kind) for involvement in a fatal stabbing which took place during a fight among several young men in December 2008 when he was 18 years old. After his arrest he was placed in detention for two weeks where he says he was tortured and otherwise ill-treated to confess. He was also denied access to both a lawyer and his family.
“It is always cruel and inhumane to take away an individual’s life by hanging but the cruelty is compounded when the execution follows an unfair trial which has relied on coerced confessions, and ignored allegations of torture and other ill-treatment,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.
Alireza Shahi had only one hearing, before Branch 71 of the Criminal Court in Tehran. According to court documents, during primary investigations which were conducted without a lawyer present, Alireza Shahi admitted to stabbing the victim. However, he later retracted his confession alleging that he had been tortured and accused another man who was also involved in the fight of inflicting the fatal stab wound. His death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court in May 2013.
“The rate of executions in Iran is deplorable which, if they continue at the current rate, could reach more than 1,000 this year. In case after case we hear allegations of torture, fundamentally flawed trials, all in breach of international law and standards. The Iranian authorities must immediately stop the execution of Alireza Shahi, commute his death sentence and investigate the allegations that he was tortured or otherwise ill-treated.”
Amnesty International is also calling on the authorities to stop the hanging of a juvenile offender, Salar Shadizadi, which is feared to have been scheduled for Saturday 28 November. He has been sentenced to death for killing a friend when he was 15 years old, in breach of international law’s prohibition on the use of the death penalty against people who were under 18 years old at the time of the crime.
Iran is the second most prolific executioner in the world after China, according to Amnesty International’s latest global death penalty report.