Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Iran executes woman accused of murdering lover's wife

Shahla Jahed, the mistress of Iranian football star Naser Mohammadkhani, during her trial in Tehran. Photograph: Str/AFP/Getty Images
Shahla Jahed, who was convicted of murdering the wife of football legend Naser Mohammadkhani, was hanged in the early hours of this morning, Iran state news agencies have reported.
Saeed Kamali Dehghan - guardian.co.uk,

  • Iran hanged Shahla Jahed, a football player's mistress convicted of murdering his wife, in the early hours of today, Iran state news agencies have reported.
    "Few minutes ago, Shahla Jahed was hanged in the courtyard of Tehran's Evin prison after 3063 days of being kept in prison," Fars news agency wrote in its report.
    Islamic Republic Student Agency (ISNA) said that she was hanged at 5am and that the murdered wife's family were present during her execution. According to Iranian law, Shahla Jahed's life could have been spared if the family of the murdered woman pardoned her. Iran executes those sentenced to death before the Islamic morning call for prayer.
    Last year, Iran executed 388 people – more than any other country in the world apart from China, according to Amnesty International. Most are hanged.
    Jahed's execution is a defeat for human rights activists around the world who campaigned in the past nine years to stop Iran from carrying out her sentence. Last night, Amnesty International and several human rights campaigners called on Iran to stop her execution.
    In 2008, the then chief of Iran's judiciary, Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi ordered a fresh investigation and did not show his green light to her sentence of execution to be carried out but today Iran defied the international and domestic outcry by hanging her.
    Shahla Jahed, whose case has become a cause celebre in the Islamic republic, was found guilty of the 2002 murder of Laleh Saharkhizan, the wife of Naser Mohammadkhani, a football legend who rose to fame in the mid-1980s and coached Tehran's Persepolis club.
    Jahed, who was held in Tehran's notorious Evin prison for nine years, was sentenced to death on the basis of her confession, which she later repeatedly retracted at her public trial.
    Activists in Iran widely suspect that Jahed was forced to confess to the stabbing. The news of Jahed's pending execution outraged human rights activists, who have campaigned for several years to stop Iran from killing her.
    Karim Lahidji, the president of the Iranian League for Human Rights, described her as "a victim of a misogynous society" and said: "Shahla Jahed has never had a fair trial in Iran and has always insisted that she is innocent. Although Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani's case is about adultery, her case is similar to that of Shahla Jahed because both are victims of the flaws of the Iranian judicial system."
    He added: "We are approaching the Human Rights Day on 10 December and once again Iran is executing another woman. That's a clear signal that Iran wants to challenge the world on human rights issues."
    Following the murder, Jahed was arrested as the prime suspect, but she refused to talk for nearly a year. Mohammadkhani was also imprisoned for several months on charges of complicity but was finally released after the authorities said Jahed had confessed to committing the crime alone.
    Jahed told the judge at her public trial: "If you want to kill me, go ahead … if you send me back there [where her confessions were taken], I'll confess again and not only will I confess to killing her but I'd also confess that I killed those who have been killed by others." She then repeatedly reiterated that she was innocent and that she had not committed any crime.
    Mohammadkhani was in Germany when the killing happened, but it emerged later that he was "temporarily married" to Jahed, a practice allowed under Shia Islam. Temporary marriage or "sigheh", as it is known in Iran, allows men to take on wives for as little as a few hours to years on the condition that any offspring are legally and financially provided for. Critics of the tradition see it as legalised prostitution.
    Shahla Jahed's case drew huge attention when Iran took the unprecedented decision of holding her trial in public.
    In 2005 a documentary about her case and her affairs with the footballer showed footage from her public trial. The documentary, Red Card, was subsequently banned by Iran.
    Web Resource: Guardian CO UK