Iran to execute man arrested as teenager, Amnesty says

Mohammad Hassan Rezaiee, who was arrested at the age of 16, has spent more than a decade on death row.
An exhibition calls for an end to executions in Iran on Trafalgar Square on Oct. 10, 2020, in London, England. Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images.

Dec 18, 2020 – Al-Monitor – Amnesty International is urging the Iranian government to call off plans to execute a man for a crime that took place when he was a teenager and whose trial the rights group said was grossly unfair.

The family of Mohammad Hassan Rezaiee was informed on Thursday that his execution would be carried out “in a week” following his transfer to solitary confinement inside Lakan Prison in the northern Iranian city of Rasht. 

“The Iranian authorities are yet again waging an abhorrent assault on children’s rights and making an absolute mockery of juvenile justice,” said Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa. 

“We call on the Iranian authorities to immediately halt Mohammad Hassan Rezaiee’s execution, quash his conviction and sentence, and grant him a fair retrial conducted in full compliance with the rules of juvenile justice and without resorting to the death penalty,” Eltahawy said in a statement Friday. 

Rezaiee, now 30, was arrested in 2007 in connection with a man’s fatal stabbing during a group fight. He was 16 years old at the time of his arrest. 

An Iranian criminal court sentenced Rezaiee to death in 2008 based on confessions he later retracted in court that he said were induced under torture that included beatings with sticks and hoses. 

Iran is one of the only countries that invokes capital punishment for crimes committed by minors, in violation of international human rights law. In 2019, Iran executed at least six people who were under the age of 18 when they committed their alleged crimes, Amensty said. In April, the state executed two men arrested as children, Shayan Saeedpour and Majid Esmailzadeh. 

Iran drew international condemnation for its hanging last weekend of dissident Ruhollah Zam. The Paris-based Iranian journalist and blogger was sentenced to death for “corruption on earth,” a serious charge often used to punish alleged espionage or subversion. 

Iran is also holding a number of foreign nationals on spurious espionage charges, including Iranian-Americans Morad Tahbaz and Siamak and Baquer Namazi. On Sunday, an Iranian court convicted British-Iranian anthropologist Kameel Ahmady of “collaborating with a hostile government.”