Iran Human Rights (IHRNGO); November 3, 2021: Juvenile offender Arman Abdolali’s execution was postponed for the fifth time in the last three weeks. He is still at imminent risk of execution. No official explanation has been offered about his repeated transfers for execution.
Iran Human Rights Director, Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam said: “As well as the death penalty being a cruel and inhuman punishment, the execution of juvenile offenders is also a violation of international law and the repeated transfer of a prisoner for execution is a clear example of torture.”
According to information obtained by Iran Human Rights, juvenile offender Arman Abdolali’s execution has been postponed for the fifth time in the last three weeks. He was transferred to solitary confinement in preparation for his execution at 6 pm on October 31. Half an hour later, he was transferred back to his cell in Ward 2, Hall 5.
In an interview with Hamshahri newspaper on November 2, Arman said: “Usually they transfer you for execution a day or two before the scheduled date, You’re cut off from everyone. You think that you won’t be alive in a day or two, or even in a few hours. Even today, I think I’m supposed to be transferred for execution again and I don’t know if I’ll be executed tomorrow or not. I’ve been transferred to solitary confinement in preparation for my execution five times. And once two years ago. They even took me to the gallows but officials were able to gain an extension from Ghazaleh’s parents (his alleged victim) moment before the execution was carried out. Every time I’m transferred for execution, I think it will be my last time.”
To date, no official explanation has been offered about his repeated transfers for execution. Arman is still at risk of execution and international and Iran’s civil society must work for the commutation of his sentence and other juvenile offenders on death row.
Arman Abdolali was born on 9 March 1996 and was 17 years old at the time of the alleged murder in 2013. He was sentenced to qisas (retribution-in-kind) for murder without a body ever being found.
Informed sources told Iran Human Rights: “CCTV footage showed Ghazaleh (his alleged victim) leaving the building after meeting Arman. But the police never investigated the evidence.”
Arman’s lawyer had previously pointed to the fact that the pull-up bar Arman had confessed to using as the murder weapon had also never been examined by the police.
Upon arrest, Arman was held in solitary confinement for 74 days where he confessed to the murder. He was subsequently tried and sentenced to qisas (retribution-in-kind) based on the confession, without taking into consideration that he was a juvenile offender.
Days prior to his execution, Arman’s lawyer found out that Ghazaleh had been issued with a leave of absence by her university and her insurance policy had been renewed and used them as evidence to request a retrial.
Two of the judges who had previously sentenced Arman to qisas, opined that further investigations would be required in light of the fact that the letter from her university was dated after the murder was alleged to have taken place. Meanwhile, Ghazaleh’s family gave Arman an extension and opportunity to reveal the location of the body.
His retrial was heard before Branch 5 of the Criminal Court when he was studying for his master’s degree at Shahid Modarres University. Once again, he denied the murder and stated that he did not know where her body was and that she might be alive.
His case was later referred to the Tehran Criminal Court, which found him guilty of murder and sentenced him to qisas. The sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court in February this year.
Iran is one of the few countries in the world that still carries out the death penalty for juvenile offenders. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the Islamic Republic is a signatory to, prohibit the issuance and implementation of the death penalty for crimes committed by an individual below 18 years of age.
Yet, according to data collected by IHR and international human rights organisations, the Islamic Republic is responsible for more than 70% of all executions of juvenile offenders in the last 30 years. IHR’s statistics also show that at least 64 juvenile offenders have been executed in Iran over the past 10 years, with at least four executed in 2020.