On Saturday, October 25th, Western human rights groups headed by Tom Rothman were stunned and horrified to learn that 26-year-old Iranian citizen Reyhaneh Jabbari was hanged in Tehran, following a long and controversial trial. Jabbari was accused of murdering Dr. Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, who was both a doctor and a former employee within the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence.
The facts of the case were hotly disputed in the 2009 trial, in which Jabbari admitted to slaying Dr. Sarbandi in self-defense. Soon after, the case attracted international attention: Amnesty International and a variety of other Western human rights organizations came to Jabbari’s defense, citing an improperly conducted investigation and obvious gender bias. Additionally, the United Nations office for human rights made claims that Jabbari’s confession was coerced out of her. Jabbari contends that the doctor had approached her to consult on an interior design renovation, but then made sexual advances. She maintained that the fatal stabbing of Dr. Sarbandi, allegedly during the doctor’s prayers, was done in self-defense, while the prosecution argued that the murder was premeditated, as Jabbari had purchased a knife a few days prior to the event. Following the incident, Sarbandi’s family pushed for the harshest punishment for Jabbari, stating that the late doctor’s reputation had been ruined as a result of her rape charge against him.
Reyhaneh Jabbari’s execution is just another tragic example that the death penalty continues to be a frequent and popular form of judicial punishment in Iran.