Iran postpones execution of man arrested aged 17

Human rights groups say the execution could happen as early as Saturday

Arman Abdolali has been moved to solitary confinement in preparation for his execution this week. Photo: Abdolali family photo
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Iran has postponed the internationally criticised planned execution of a man arrested for murder when he was 17, but he remains at imminent risk of being hanged, Amnesty International and other rights groups said on Wednesday.

Arman Abdolali, now 25, was given the verdict after a trial that rights groups described as unfair. His scheduled execution had renewed international criticism of Iran's use of capital punishment.

Abdolali had been moved to solitary confinement in the Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj, west of Tehran, in preparation for his execution on Wednesday, and held a final meeting with his parents on Tuesday.

But the execution did not go ahead, although there are fears it may take place on Saturday, said Amnesty and the Oslo-based Iran Human Rights.

The “execution is now postponed to Saturday, October 16. He remains at risk of imminent execution in Iran. He was just 17 when arrested,” Amnesty said on Twitter.

Iran Human Rights, which monitors the use of the death penalty in the country, said Abdolali was still being held in solitary confinement, and quoted sources as saying the execution would take place on Saturday.

Amnesty says Abdolali was sentenced to death in December 2015 after being convicted of murder following his girlfriend's disappearance the year before, but in “a grossly unfair trial” by a court that “relied on torture-tainted 'confessions'".

Iran Human Rights said Abdolali confessed to the murder at the time of his arrest, but the body was never found and he later withdrew his confessions.

Rights groups say international conventions signed by Iran prohibit it from executing anyone for a crime committed while aged under 18.

Iran executes more people each year than any nation except China. Iran Human Rights said at least 64 juvenile offenders have been executed in the country over the past 10 years, with at least four executed in 2020.

In a sign of the international concern over the case, Germany's human rights commissioner Baerbel Kofler said carrying out the execution would be an “unacceptable breach of international law".

“Arman Abdolali was a minor at the time of the alleged crime. There is credible evidence that his confession was obtained under torture and that the conviction thus contradicts fundamental principles of the rule of law,” she said in a statement released by the German foreign ministry.

Updated: October 14, 2021, 6:20 AM