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article imageIran Under Pressure To Halt Harsh Retribution Verdict

By Helena H. Quartz     May 18, 2011 in Crime
Tehran - A very first verdict of blinding a man in Iran’s judicial system history has been postponed under the pressure of Human Rights activists and Amnesty International.
The plaintiff, Ameneh Bahrami, was supposed to execute the blinding retribution verdict herself on May 14, 2011, eight years after she fully lost her vision over a controversial case of acid thrown into her eyes as a result of denying a marriage proposal.
Majid Movahedi, now 29 and a brother of 4 younger sisters, threw acid in Ameneh’s face in 2004 after he received a final serious No from her despite he had even threatened to kill her as a last tool to make the girl of his dreams marry him. Ameneh says that Majid was never even any boyfriend or fiancé, but just stalking her and keep proposing through phone calls.
Majid’s criminal act of revenge not only claimed Ameneh’s vision on both eyes, but also made her suffering a terrible disfiguration of the full face ever since, despite several rounds of surgeries on her face and eyes inside Iran and overseas.
Under Iranian Official Judicial System which functions based on Sharia Law, retribution (Qisas) is fully recognized and practiced.
Eye for eye, life for life! Two very common phrases under such jurisdiction; but despite the routine occurrence of the latter particularly over the last 3 decades since Islamic Republic formed in Iran, it’s the very first time the former is indeed happening throughout the country. It’s the news not only made its way as the top story one nationwide but also through media across the world.
Ameneh has been undeniably persistent in demanding a retribution verdict, after her several surgeries went unsuccessful in western countries financed by both local and international supportive agencies.
In an interview over the Internet with an on-line newspaper running out of Iran and filtered by Iranian government, Ameneh said she has been told that the Swedish and British Embassies in Iran along with other human rights groups have asked Iranian authorities to halt the verdict. The website removed the interview and the headline two days after, most likely to avoid further twists and complications in Ameneh's case since speaking to foreign media about controversial matters that could attract negative attentions to Iran is not welcomed and tolerated by Iranian hard-line authorities. Ameneh was quoted saying: “If they (human rights groups) are honest with their concerns over human rights, they are the ones to accept the responsibility to pay the 2 Million Euros toward the completion of my operations till I am healed. That is the only option for me to let the retribution verdict replace with a life sentence. Otherwise it’s them (human rights groups) who are indeed carrying out the blinding retribution through Ameneh’s hand, not me.”
She further was quoted: “Two million Euros is no money for the ambassadors of UK and Sweden, and Human Rights groups.”
In same interview Ameneh is reported she would agree to let Majid be sentenced for life instead of blinding retribution, only if she would be compensated for at least two million Euros, an amount that may still neither fully cover all her future operations nor result in getting back her initial vision and face. Majid’s family is unable to provide the claimed fund, but Majid’s parents agreed before they would give their family house as their only and most valuable asset, if that would be considered by Ameneh and her family.
No official reason has been announced yet by Iranian authorities as why the execution of the verdict which was duly scheduled for today was postponed or cancelled in the last minutes.
Ameneh heard about the cancellation news in local media on her way to the hospital where she would pour 5 drops of acid in each of Majid’s eyes. She received later a phone call from her lawyer that the authorities have ordered the retribution session to be halted, due to Ameneh’s speaking with foreign media.
While speculations indicate that the real cause of delay or cancellation of the court verdict, is the latest pressure and comments by human rights groups and an announcement posted on May 13 in Amnesty International website, local media are trying to emphasize that the real reason is the latest concerns raised by Iranian physicians who believe having acid dripped directly into the eyes as sentenced by the court – as opposed to throwing a bucket of acid from some distance over the face, as happened in reality – may result to more harm than the initial crime, and particularly could lead to serious brain damage.
The manner for the blinding retribution to be carried out had been a major obstacle and reason of the delays in the final outcome of the court. Ameneh was first denied the option of pouring a bucket of acid over Majid’s face, concerning the overall damage could be more than what she received, as such giving grounds to Majid’s family for asking compensation for the extra harm. To avoid the complications and to move forward her case, Ameneh later narrowed the retribution request to target merely Majid’s eyes but with sufficient acid power to ensure it would make him fully blind. This would leave Majid’s face safe but he would still be sentenced for many years if not life to pay for his criminal action. The court ultimately accepted to fulfill Ameneh’s continuous plea to have acid “dripped” into Majid eyes in a hospital and under medical monitoring and attention.
Ameneh's interviews with local and foreign media, specially those running by anti-regime or opposition groups, not only could further delay the process and strongly diminish her chances to see any justice at all, but also may lead herself as well to face penalties or even being arrested and jailed, if her plea and interviews with foreign broadcasters bring more attention to Iran’s already questioned and condemned historical poor human rights status.
"Women in Iran are subject to many forms of violence – in their homes, in the street and at the hands of the government, which the authorities have a duty firstly to prevent and then to provide redress for victims,” as posted May 13th in Amnesty International website. “However, in doing so they cannot violate international law by imposing cruel punishments such as that which Majid Movahedi is facing. Obliging a doctor to administer such a punishment would violate international medical ethics codes.”
More about Iran, Ameneh Bahrami, Retribution, Qisas, Majid Movahedi
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