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UN’s Iran rights watchdog slams case of death-row woman

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AFP- A UN human rights monitor on Monday urged Tehran to halt the planned execution of an Iranian woman for the alleged murder of a former intelligence official, saying her trial had been deeply flawed.

The case of Reyhaneh Jabbari, who claims she acted in self-defence after a sexual assault, raises concerns because of her alleged forced confession and a court failure to consider all the evidence, said Ahmed Shaheed.

“The Iranian authorities should review her case and refer it back to court for a re-trial, ensuring the defendant due process rights guaranteed under both Iranian law and international law,” said Shaheed, a human rights expert and former foreign minister of the Maldives.

Shaheed is tasked by the UN with monitoring Iran, and has regularly locked horns with the Islamic republic over its human rights record.

Iran’s prosecutor general, Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie, on Monday called reports that Jabbari would be executed within a couple of days “pure speculation”.

Her lawyer Abdolsamad Khoramshahi, quoted by the official IRNA news agency, said an execution date has yet to be finalised, but that “her sentence will be carried out within a month if the victim’s family does not grant mercy”.

Jabbari, an interior designer, was sentenced to death for pre-meditated murder over the 2007 slaying of Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a former employee of the Iranian Intelligence Ministry.

Shaheed said in a statement that “reliable sources” had confirmed that Sarbandi had offered to hire Jabbari to redesign his office.

Sarbandi arranged to take Jabbari to his office, but instead took her to a residence where he sexually forced himself upon her, Shaheed said.

Jabbari reportedly stabbed Sarbandi in the shoulder in self-defence, fled for safety, and called for an ambulance out of concern for her alleged attacker.

Shaheed pointed to evidence including a medical report highlighting the presence of a tranquiliser in a glass of juice found at the crime scene, suggesting a sexual assault had been planned.

If her allegations are true, Shaheed said, Jabbari “may have been doubly victimised, first by her attacker, and then by the judicial system, which is supposed to protect victims of intended and actual sexual and physical assault”.

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