Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Dateline: Iran

NYTimes (reg. req.)
Iranian Woman Faces Execution in Official's Death

TEHRAN, Oct. 4 — An Iranian woman accused of killing a police chief in southern Iran who she said tried to rape her has been convicted and is to be executed, the Shargh newspaper reported Saturday.

The woman, Afsaneh Noroozi, 32, who has been in jail since 1997, said during her trial that she stabbed the chief of police intelligence on the island of Kish in self-defense when he tried to rape her. The police chief, whose name has not been made public, was a friend of Ms. Noroozi's family, and she was at his house as a guest.

Her lawyer cited in her defense an article in Iran's Islamic penal code that allows citizens to take proportionate action to defend "life, honor, chastity, property, or freedom."

The newspaper reported that the final ruling, confirmed by a high-level court in August, was delivered to Ms. Noroozi in prison in the southern city of Bandar Abbas last week. Sentences are usually carried out a few days after the ruling is delivered.

Human rights workers and advocates for women's rights have condemned the ruling, saying that it is a violation of the right of a woman to defend her honor.

Three women who are members of Parliament recently sent a letter to the chief of the judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, asking him to send the case to a different judge.

The only person who can grant clemency now is Iran's supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Amnesty International has recorded 83 executions this year in Iran.