Child bride faces execution by hanging in Iran
She thought the marriage was her only chance to escape poverty. Soon
after the wedding, Hossein started beating Zeinab – she asked for a
divorce, but he refused. She told police, but they ignored her. She ran
away, but her family disowned her.
Now, Zeinab faces imminent execution for killing her
abusive husband – a crime she states her brother-in-law committed. She
could be hanged within days. Tell Iran to stop her execution
conservative Iranian-Kurdish family, and ran away from home to marry
Hossein Sarmadi in the hope for a better life.
She was 17 when her husband died. Zeinab was arrested and “confessed”
that she killed her husband after he’d abused her for months and
refused her requests for divorce.
She was then held at the police station for the next 20 days and repeatedly tortured by police officers.
After a grossly unfair trial, in which she was denied access to a
lawyer during her entire pre-trial detention, Zeinab was sentenced to
death by hanging.
Execution delayed during pregnancy
In 2015 Zeinab married a fellow prisoner in Oroumieh Central Prison and became pregnant.
Her execution was delayed while Zeinab was expecting. Last month she
gave birth to a stillborn baby, and is now at imminent risk of
Doctors said her baby died in her womb two days earlier due to shock,
around the same time her cell mate and friend was executed on 28
September. She was returned from hospital to the prison the very next
day – denied any postnatal support or care since.
Raped by her brother-in-law
Zainab only met her state-appointed lawyer for the first time at her
final trial session. It was then that she retracted confessions made
when she’d had no access to a lawyer.
She told the court that her husband’s brother, who she said had raped
her several times, was responsible for the murder and had coerced her
into confessing, promising he would pardon her (under Islamic law,
murder victims’ relatives have the power to pardon the offender and
accept financial compensation instead).
This statement was ignored by the court, which instead relied heavily on her old “confessions” to reach its verdict.
A child at the time of the crime
Zainab was just 17 at the time of the crime she is accused of. The
courts completely failed to apply juvenile sentencing from Iran’s
Islamic penal code in her case.
They also failed to tell her that she could submit an application for
retrial. Iran’s penal code falls woefully short of what’s required for
juvenile offenders under international human rights law, and even the
limited safeguards that do exist are not adhered to by the authorities.
The use of the death penalty for crimes committed by people under 18
is also completely prohibited under the Convention on the Rights of the
Child, which Iran has signed up to.
Stop Zeinab’s execution now
Please urge the Iranian authorities to halt Zeinab’s execution and
throw out her death sentence. She must be granted a fair retrial in
accordance with juvenile justice principles.
There must be a prompt, independent, and thorough investigation into her allegations of torture.
The authorities have to ensure that any statements obtained from her
under torture or without a lawyer present are not used as evidence
against her in court.
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