LONDON, July 17 (Reuters) – Amnesty International made an urgent appeal on Tuesday against the planned execution of an Iranian teenager convicted of murder when he was 16.
“Should this execution be carried out, it would be in complete violation of international law,” Amnesty said in a statement.
“It would also be a morally unjustifiable, abhorrent act carried out by a government against one of its young citizens.”
Sina Paymard, a musician and drug addict with a history of psychological problems, according to his lawyer, was arrested in 2004 after stabbing a drug dealer in a Tehran park. His execution is expected to take place on Tuesday.
He was nearly hanged in September last year. But, as a last request he was allowed to play the ney, a Middle Eastern flute, and his playing so moved the family of the victim that he was granted a last-minute reprieve, Amnesty said.
Paymard’s lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, said he was now scheduled to be executed on Tuesday, although it was still not certain.
“Sina has been told that he will be executed tonight,” Sotoudeh told Reuters. “The fact that an 18-year-old goes to the execution chamber, whether executed or not, is terrifying.”
The family of the victim have said they will accept a payment equivalent to $160,000, allowing the sentence to be commuted, but Paymard’s family can’t raise sufficient funds.
“Issuing death sentence for juveniles under 18 years of age is banned under the convention on children’s rights, to which Iran is a signatory,” Sotoudeh said. “Sina was under that age when he received the death sentence.”
Iran has one of the highest rates of execution in the world, according to Amnesty. Since the beginning of 2007, at least 124 people have been put to death. In 2006, 177 were executed.
The rights group said that while it recognised Iran’s right to bring to justice those suspected of serious crimes, the death penalty was a violation of the right to life and the “ultimate form of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment”.