Fate of teen offender facing execution in Iran 'rests with victim's family'

Arman Abdolali is on death row for killing his girlfriend when he was just 17

The Iranian authorities are encouraging a blood money payment to reprieve suspected killer Arman Abdolali. Photo: Family handout
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Rights groups have criticised Iran after a senior official said the fate of a condemned man convicted of a murder he committed at the age of 17 is in the hands of the victim’s family.

Arman Abdolali, now 25, is facing the gallows for killing his girlfriend following a 2015 trial marred by confessions obtained under torture, according to Amnesty International.

Iran has cancelled the planned execution on at least two occasions after international outcries. Abdolali has been moved in and out of solitary confinement at Raja’i Shahr prison in Karaj, on the outskirts of Tehran, over the last week in preparation for his execution.

The UN said the hanging would breach international laws banning the death penalty for people who committed crimes while under the age of 18.

A senior Iranian justice official has told Iran’s official news agency IRNA that the family of the dead woman could spare his life in return for blood money. Resolving the dispute has been complicated by the failure to find the young woman’s body, the official said.

But the UN and Amnesty International said that responsibility lay with Iran to uphold international rules on the rights of the child.

“The fact stands that Arman Abdolali faces the gallows because Iranian courts sentenced him to death in flagrant breach of international law,” Amnesty said. “The imminent execution of Arman Abdolali also exposes yet again the complicity of successive parliaments in the assault on children’s rights.”

UN human rights experts said that while the authorities had encouraged negotiations about a pardon that did not replace prohibition on executions.

There are reportedly more than 85 juvenile offenders on death row in Iran despite Iran signing an agreement banning the practice in 1968.

“International human rights law unequivocally forbids imposition of the death sentence on anyone under 18 years of age,” said the experts, who include the special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman.

Updated: October 21, 2021, 3:49 PM