Iran postpones execution of woman accused of killing attempted rapist


Rayhaneh Jabbari faces execution in Iran on Tuesday, seven years after being sentenced to death for allegedly stabbing a man she says tried to rape her.

The mother of an Iranian woman sentenced to death for killing a man who tried to rape her told the execution was postponed at the last minute.

Rayhaneh Jabbari, 26, was to be executed Tuesday, and even told her mother goodbye in a tearful phone call as she was being taken to the prison facility where she was to be hanged. But early Tuesday, Shole Pakravan said she had learned the execution had been postponed. That word came after Pakravan and other supporters of Jabbari went to Rajaiy Shahr Prison to protest the pending execution, and after Jabbari’s farewell.

“I am currently handcuffed and there is a car waiting outside to take me for the execution of the sentence,” Jabbari told her mother, whose recounting in Farsi was translated by “Goodbye, dear Mum. All of my pains will finish early tomorrow morning. I’m sorry I cannot lessen your pain. Be patient. We believe in life after death. I’ll see you in the next world and I will never leave you again because being separated from you is the most difficult thing to do in the world.”

“I am currently handcuffed and there is a car waiting outside to take me for the execution of the sentence.”

– Rayhaneh Jabbari

In April, a court postponed Jabbari’s execution in the face of heavy international outcry, including an international petition with nearly 200,000 signatures. But the grim news that the sentence will soon be carried out came as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, trying to put a moderate face on the regime.

Supporters of Rouhani hoped his election last year would usher in a more tolerant era than the one of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, particularly regarding human rights. But advocacy groups say the number of executions and violations have increased.

“This abhorrent execution must not be allowed to take place, particularly when there are serious doubts about the circumstances of the killing,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa deputy director at Amnesty International. “Instead of continuing to execute people, authorities in Iran should reform their judicial system, which dangerously relies on processes which fail to meet international law and standards for fair trial.”

Jabbari, who worked as a decorator, was convicted of the 2007 fatal stabbing of Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a former employee of the Iranian Intelligence Ministry. Jabbari, who was 19 at the time, has long maintained Sarbandi drugged her and tried to rape her after the two met at a café and she agreed to go to his office to discuss a business deal.

Sarbandi took Jabbari to a rundown building in a remote location, according to her supporters. Once there, he offered her a fruit drink which forensic tests conducted by the police determined contained a date-rape drug, according to human rights advocates.

Jabbari allegedly stabbed Sarbandi in the shoulder with a small pocket knife and fled, while Sarbandi bled to death.

Human rights advocates say the case shows the brutality and intolerance of Iran’s penal system.

“She has been tortured in so many ways in prison. They may have pressured her to confess,” said Shabnam Assadollahi, an Iranian activist based in Canada.

“This is a verdict of “Ghessas” [“an eye for an eye”], but the details of the case don’t make sense,” Assadollhai said.

Jabbari’s family and advocates, including Assadollahi, have pointed to the fact that a small pocket knife and two stabs in the shoulder would not result in fatal consequences for a large man, which is how Sarbandi was described. They say her confession was coerced with torture.

They believe someone else killed Sarbandi and that Jabbari was set up. There is also speculation that there may have been interference in the case and that crucial evidence that would potentially save Jabbari’s life was either tampered with or destroyed.

Lisa Daftari is a Fox News contributor specializing in Middle Eastern affairs.