Iran Human Rights (IHR); February 28, 2021: The Supreme Court has upheld Arman Abdolali’s qisas (retribution-in-kind) sentence for murder. Arman was under 18 years old at the time of the alleged murder.
According state-run Shargh, Arman Abdolali is a juvenile offender who was arrested on murder charges in 2013. He confessed to the murder at the time of his arrest, but the body was never found and he later withdrew his confession.
The preliminary court had sentenced Arman to qisas without taking into consideration that he was a juvenile offender.
Days prior to his execution, Arman’s lawyer found out that Ghazaleh (the victim) 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 has now been upheld by the Supreme Court.
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 63 juvenile offenders have been executed in Iran over the past 10 years, with at least four executed in 2020.
Given the security state and repression of civil society activists and the limited contact with prisoners, it is likely that the number of juvenile executions is much higher than recorded.