The Chief Justice of the Islamic Republic of Iran has intervened in the case of a 21-year old found guilty of multiple counts of anal rape (ighab), allegedly committed when he was 13 years old.

Makvan Mouloodzadeh, a 21 year old an Iranian Kurd, had been sentenced to death in the city of Paveh, following his conviction for an act of sodomy that he committed while still a minor, aged 13, with another minor, also aged 13.

Human rights activists had protested that the death penalty was unlawful in this case and argued that his trial was unfair.

“Sentencing Makwan Moloudzadeh to death violates Iranian law and international human rights conventions,” said gay human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell of the UK LGBT rights group, OutRage!

“Executing a person for an offence they allegedly committed when they were a minor, below the age of criminal responsibility, is particularly heinous and barbaric.

“Makwan is the latest victim of Tehran’s on-going homophobic campaign of imprisonment, torture, flogging and hanging,” he said.

Mr Tatchell backed the campaign by the International Gay Lesbian Human Rights Commission’s campaign to save Makwan’s life, which appears to have been successful.

The Iranian Chief Justice described the death sentence to be in violation of Islamic teachings, the religious decrees of high-ranking Shiite clerics, and the law of the land.

“This is a stunning victory for human rights and a reminder of the power of global protest,” said Paula Ettelbrick, IGLHRC’s executive director, who on November 5th sent a letter in Persian and English asking that Iranian authorities intervene to halt the execution.

The verdict in Mr. Mouloodzadeh’s case was questionable from the outset.

Although no one ever accused him of rape, the court declared otherwise.

All parties involved in the case told the court that their statements during the investigation were either untruthful or coerced.

The investigation was also riddled with procedural irregularities.

In addition to writing letters to the Iranian authorities, IGLHRC issued an action alert which prompted other human rights advocates to similarly object.

“It is absolutely imperative that we halt the deplorable use of the death penalty to force social conformity,” said Ettelbrick.

“We hope that Makvan’s case and the profound rejection of the death penalty by the Iranian Chief Justice sets the course for the future in Iran.”

After a designated group of judges from the Chief Justice’s office formally nullifies the court’s decision, the case will be sent to a local court for retrial.

Iran caused international outrage in 2005 when two Iranian teenagers, Mahmoud Asgari, 15 and Ayaz Marhoni, 17, from Khuzestan province, were witnessed engaging in homosexual activities in a semi-public area and were hanged for perverting Islamic law.

Homosexuality is illegal in Iran and is seen as a violation against God.