Execution Case Number 967. Wait, WHAT?

Iran hanged a woman on Saturday who was convicted of murdering a man she alleged was trying to rape her, drawing swift international condemnation for a prosecution several countries described as flawed. It may be hard to digest, but the execution of the woman in Iran makrs the 967th execution during the past 14 months since Hassan Rouhani took office as Iran’s president on 4 Aug 2013. Reyhaneh Jabbari was arrested for the murder of Morteza Sarbandi, a former employee of Iran’s Military of Intelligence after an alleged attempt for sexual abuse.



Timeline of Events


2007 – Reyhaneh Jabbari was arrested for the murder of Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a former employee of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence. Jabbari was just 19 years old. She had met him in a café and he had convinced her to visit his office to discuss a business deal. While there, Sarbandi allegedly drugged and attempted to rape her and she grabbed a pocket knife and stabbed him.

2009 – Reyhaneh Jabbari was sentened to death by the trial court for premeditated murder. She admitted to killing Sarbandi, however she took the plea of self defence against the alleged rape. She also maintained till her death that there was another man present during the time of murder.

2014 – A campaign calling for a halt to the execution was launched on Facebook and Twitter last month and appeared to have brought a temporary stay in execution for a period of 10 days, although the reason for the postponement was never officially confirmed.

25th October 2014 – Reyhaneh Jabbari was hanged at dawn in Rajaie Shahr prison outside Tehran after spending seven years behind bars.

Arguments of the Parties

When the case went to trial, Jabbari confessed of murder but also claimed that the Sarbandi was trying to sexually abuse her. She killed the man with a kitchen knife, by stabbing him in the back as self defence. However, the courts after a preliminary investigation found that she was guilty of premeditated murder. It was said that she had bought the knife only two days ago and apparently also sent a text message to her friend planning to murder Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi. Reyhaneh Jabbari also claimed that there was another man present at the time and place of the killing. It is also claimed that she spent two months in solitary confinement where she did not have access to a lawyer or her family.

Flaws as Pointed by Amnesty International


  • The other person as claimed by Reyhaneh Jabbari was never the focus of investigation.
  • The investigation was deeply flawed.
  • If the facts were proven, she would have never been exonerrated.
  • It raises many questions of the circumstances in which the killing was happened.
  • They also claimed that the judiciary had “pressured” Miss Jabbari to replace her lawyer Mohammad Ali Jedari Foroughi, for a more inexperienced one, in an apparent attempt to prevent an investigation of her claims.
  • Also, Iran has insisted on applying the death penalty despite serious concerns over the fairness of the trial.
  • Even the confession obtained was not free and fair.


Jabbari was sentenced to death in accordance with Koranic “qisas,” or eye for an eye, law after being found guilty of stabbing dead an older man with a kitchen knife in 2007. She had pleaded self-defense but failed to sway

Judges at various stages of appeal and had been kept in prison since her arrest. Under Islamic law, a convicted murderer is put to death if the victim’s family demands execution. The family of Sarbandi refused to take blood money and held by their stand of it being a premeditated murder. Her last chance of reprieve lay with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose powers transcend all state mandates, but he never mentioned the case and has only rarely intervened in court cases regardless of political considerations.

Not only did Amnesty International, but all the major countries, including the United States of America as well as United Kingdom along with the United Nations condemned the execution. There has been an increased number of excutions since President Hassan Rouhani took office. Tragically, this case is far from uncommon. Once again Iran has insisted on applying the death penalty despite serious concerns over the fairness of the trial.

Even in India after the Criminal Amendment of 2013, a strict action is taken by the Indian Legislation to ensure the safety and security of women and necessary rights are given to them to protect themselves in case of sexual abuse. As prevalent as the matter of death penalty and sexual abuse is, this a matter which entagles both in it’s web. This case has gotten international support in order to protect human rights as well as women rights.

Pros and Cons of death penalty have always been under debate. However, in this case, it seems that the stand taken by the Iranian Judiciary has been one of a severe nature. Everyone across the globe has taken this stand and has condemned the execution. According to the United Nations there should have been a retrial which would have helped absoleved the case under new facts and circumstances. Since particular circumstances weren’t established under which the murder took place, it couldn’t have been said that the trial took place without any misgivings.


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