The execution of a 21 year old Iranian man found guilty of gay rape, allegedly committed when he was 13, has been halted by the Iranian Chief Justice.
According to the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), the Iranian Chief Justice, Ayatollah Seyed Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, has nullified the impending death sentence of Mr. Makvan Mouloodzadeh, a 21-year old Iranian citizen found guilty of multiple counts of anal rape (ighab), allegedly committed when he was 13 years old.
The Iranian Chief Justice described the death sentence to be in violation of Islamic teachings, the religious decrees of high-ranking Shiite clerics, and the law of the land.
“This is a stunning victory for human rights and a reminder of the power of global protest,” said Paula Ettelbrick, IGLHRC’s executive director, who on November 5 sent a letter in Persian and English asking that Iranian authorities intervene to halt the execution.
The verdict in Mr. Mouloodzadeh’s case was reportedly questionable from the outset. Although no one ever accused him of rape, the court declared otherwise. All parties involved in the case told the court that their statements during the investigation were either untruthful or coerced. The investigation was also riddled with procedural irregularities.
Recognising that the death sentence in this case violated both international law and the Penal Code of the Islamic Republic of Iran, IGLHRC not only wrote letters to the Iranian authorities, but also issued an action alert, which prompted other human rights advocates to similarly object.
Activists from around the world responded by sending over 100 emails demanding an immediate halt to Makvan’s execution. Other human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Iranian Queer Organisation issued action alerts of their own.
“It is absolutely imperative that we halt the deplorable use of the death penalty to force social conformity,” said Ettelbrick. “We hope that Makvan’s case and the profound rejection of the death penalty by the Iranian Chief Justice sets the course for the future in Iran.”
After a designated group of judges from the Chief Justice’s office formally nullifies the court’s decision, the case will be sent to a local court for retrial.