Jailed Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh appeals to UN over prison executions

Campaigner urges the global body to try to prevent extensive use of the death penalty

(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 18, 2013 Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh smiles at her home in Tehran, after being freed following three years in prison. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on February 24, 2021 he was "very concerned" about the fate of Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, who is once again imprisoned in Iran, and called for the release of Franco-Iranian researcher Fariba Adelkhah before the UN Human Rights Council. / AFP / Behrouz MEHRI
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Jailed Iranian lawyer and campaigner Nasrin Sotoudeh wrote to the UN Secretary General to protest against the executions of nine prisoners at Qarchak prison where she is serving her minimum 12-year sentence.

The nine prisoners hanged at the gallows on February 17 included Zahra Esmaili, who killed her detective husband after suffering domestic abuse for years, according to her supporters.

“You know well what predictable mistakes are often made in these numerous executions,” she said in the letter to Antonio Guterres.

“As someone who has been closely involved in Zahra Esmaili’s case, I am certain that she did not commit murder.”

The letter was distributed by Pen America, a human rights organisation in the US that honoured Ms Sotoudeh in 2011.

She returned to Qarchak prison, outside Tehran, last month after a brief period of medical leave because of a heart condition. Lawyers in France described Qarchak as an "overcrowded and unsanitary institution".

Last year she went on a 46-day hunger strike to secure better conditions and the release of political prisoners during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ms Sotoudeh, 57, was arrested in 2018 on charges of collusion and propaganda against Iran's rulers and was sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes. She must serve at least 12 years in prison.

She was jailed after defending a woman arrested for protesting against the requirement for Iranian women to wear the hijab.