New York-based Human Rights Watch is concerned that the death penalty is about to be used against an Iranian man accused of sex crimes allegedly committed when he was a child.
On Monday a lawyer for Makwan Mouloudzadeh told HRW that Kermanshah court had informed him that the sentence of death could now be carried out even though a required judicial review had not been completed.
On May 25, 2007, Branch Seven of the Penal Court of the city of Kermanshah sentenced Mouloudzadeh to death for raping three boys in 2000, even though all of his accusers had recanted their statements and he had repudiated his confession as being coerced by the police.
Mouloudzadeh, now aged 20, was convicted as a juvenile offender since the crimes were allegedly committed when he was under age 18.
After the Supreme Court in July upheld the conviction, the head of Iran’s judiciary, Ayatollah Shahrudi, exercised his authority to declare the conviction to be contrary to Sharia law.
An order by Shahrudi on November 3rd requires that a branch of the review and follow-up unit of the Judiciary investigate the case and then refer it back to the Penal Court of Kermanshah.
“The court authorities in Kermanshah are legally obligated to follow the Judiciary’s order and halt the execution,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.
“They are rushing to execute a young man for crimes that even his accusers now admit never took place.”
During the trial, all of Mouloudzadeh’s accusers recanted their accusations against him and Mouloudzadeh himself testified that any confessions that he had made to the police about the alleged crimes were coerced and false.
The judge did not accept their testimonies and sentenced Mouloudzadeh to death.
Under Iranian law, “crimes of chastity” such as rape are not subject to the regular appellate process, and are instead sent directly to the country’s Supreme Court for review.
On July 19th the Supreme Court approved the death sentence for Mouloudzadeh, allowing the authorities to carry out the sentence at any time.
Iran leads the world in executing juvenile offenders, persons under 18 at the time of the crime, and is known to have already executed two juvenile offenders this year.
Syed Mohammad Reza Mousavi Shirazi, 20, was executed in Adel Abd prison in the city of Shiraz on April 22nd, for a murder he was found to have committed when he was 16.
Sa’id Qanbar Zahi was executed in Zahedan on May 27th for a crime he was found to have committed when he was 17.