In a world where a rape victim is hanged and a dead rapist declared innocent

Reyhaneh Jabbari

Reyhaneh Jabbari

Perhaps we will never know the truth why Reyhaneh Jabbari, a 26-year old Iranian woman, was hanged in a Tehran prison despite claiming she was a victim of sexual assault.

According to reports, Jabbari’s woes started seven years before in 2007 when she killed Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, an Iranian intelligence agent, who sought her services as an interior designer and invited her to his flat on the pretense of discussing the redesign of his office, but who instead abused her.

Jabbari is said to have stabbed Sarbandi and claimed the killing was an act of self-defense.

She was convicted of his murder at a subsequent trial after confessing, which many claim was extracted under duress, and sentenced to hanging in 2009.

Her pleas of self-defense failed to sway judges at various stages of appeal up to Iran’s Supreme Court and she remained in prison throughout.

Her last chance of reprieve lay with the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but he failed to intervene.

Under Iranian law, the family of victims is to grant clemency in capital punishment cases.

Although Jabarri admitted to stabbing Sarbandi once in the back, she alleged that he was actually killed by someone else in the house.

Jalal Sarbandi, the victim’s eldest son, said Jabbari had refused to identify the man. “Only when her true intentions are exposed and she tells the truth about her accomplice and what really went down will we be prepared to grant mercy,” he told the media earlier this year.

But nothing has changed and not even the United Nations’ as well as Amnesty International’s appeal for the stay in execution mattered. The victim’s family could have saved Jabbari’s life by accepting blood money but they refused to do so. For how could a knife inflicted on the back of the deceased be an act of self-defense?

Seeing Jabarri not telling the truth ever, the Sarbandi family insisted on their legal rights under the Islamic principle of “an eye for an eye”.

Now they are even.

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