Rights group: Iran must halt execution of man jailed as teen
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — An Iranian Kurdish man who was arrested when he was 17 years old and alleges he was tortured into confessing has been informed he will be hanged next week, rights group Amnesty International said Friday.
The London-based group is urging Iranian authorities to immediately halt the execution of the man, Saman Naseem, who is now 22, and thoroughly review his case.
“Imposing the death penalty on someone who was a child when the alleged crime took place goes against international human rights laws that Iran has committed to respect,” the group’s deputy director for the Middle East, Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, said in a statement.
Naseem was arrested in July 2011 after a firefight between Revolutionary Guard forces and members of the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan, a Kurdish rebel group known as PEJAK, in the northwestern city of Sardasht. He was held without access to a lawyer in an intelligence service detention center, according to Amnesty.
In a letter seen by the rights group, Naseem alleged that he was held in a cell measuring 2 meters (yards) by half a meter. He says he was repeatedly beaten and suspended by his hands and feet before being forced while blindfolded to put his fingerprints on documents to confirm his alleged confession.
He then appeared in a televised confession and in January 2012 was sentenced to death following a conviction for “enmity against God” and “corruption on earth” over his supposed involvement with the Kurdish armed group. He later retracted his confession at trial, noting his torture claims, and his lawyers have not been allowed to pursue his defense, according to Amnesty.
The group says his death sentence was overturned by the Supreme Court because he was under 18 when arrested, but another court later re-imposed the punishment.
Iranian officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
The United Nations General Assembly human rights committee in November approved a resolution expressing deep concern over Iran’s “alarmingly high frequency” of the use of the death penalty. The country has the second-highest number of executions worldwide, after China.
Follow Adam Schreck on Twitter at www.twitter.com/adamschreck