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19th October 2016, 10:15:33 UTC

22 year old Zeinab Sekaanvand Lokran was sentenced to death by hanging after an unfair trial.

Zeinab was convicted of killing her husband. She was held in the police station for 20 days where she has said she was tortured and beaten by male police officers. She “confessed” that she stabbed her husband after he had subjected her to months of physical and verbal abuse and had repeatedly refused her requests for divorce. She was 17 years old when her husband was killed and she was arrested.

International pressure is working. Zeinab’s execution has not taken place as feared and she is no longer at imminent risk of execution.

Zeinab now has a new lawyer who is in the process of submitting an application for retrial based on Article 91 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code. Her death sentence remains in place until a retrial is granted by the authorities.

Unfair trial

In her initial trial, Zeinab was only provided with a (state-appointed) lawyer at her final trial session, at which point she retracted her “confession”. She told the court that her husband’s brother, who she said had raped her several times, was responsible for the murder and had coerced her into “confessing”, promising that he would pardon her (under Islamic law, murder victims’ relatives have the power to pardon the offender and accept financial compensation instead). This statement was ignored by the court, which instead relied heavily on “confessions” she had made without a lawyer present to issue a verdict. The court failed to apply Iranian juvenile sentencing guidelines.

Abuse and violence
She married Hossein Sarmadi when she was 15 years old. Not long after the couple married, her husband started abusing her verbally and physically, swearing at her and beating her regularly. She asked for a divorce but he refused. The police ignored her complaints about the abuse.

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