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Iran: Woman Hanged for Murder Committed at Age 17

(June 22, 2009) It was recently reported in an Iranian newspaper that a young woman, now 23 years old, was hanged for a murder she had committed as a teenager. Del A'ara, at the age of 17, was accused of having murdered, with the help of a boyfriend, a wealthy 65-year-old woman who was a close relative of her father. Upon returning home from the scene of the crime, she realized that she had left her purse there. She returned, accompanied by another boy, to pick up her purse. The boy reported to the police what he had seen at the home of the murdered woman.

Under Islamic criminal law, prosecution of the crime of murder falls under the principle of Qassas, an Islamic legal term meaning retaliation, or “lex talionis,” under which punishment should be in kind. The girl pleaded guilty at first, but later recanted her previous statement and claimed that her boyfriend was the principal perpetrator of the crime and had directed her to make a confession because she was a minor and could be sentenced to a lesser punishment. However, she was sentenced to be executed by hanging. The survivors of the murdered woman, who could have saved the life of the girl by giving her their pardon, refused to do so and insisted that her conviction should stand on appeal. The sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court.

All through the criminal investigation and trial, Del A'ara practiced her painting skills in prison and, with the help of some Iranian painters outside the prison who had been informed of her work, organized a painting exhibition. The refusal of the murder victim's survivors to pardon her, however, prevented the judges from reducing the punishment.

With all appeals exhausted, the death sentence had to be executed. One of the children of the victims placed the rope around the girl's neck and the execution was carried out. (A Young Woman Was Hanged for the Crime of Murder She Committed When She Was 17, IRAN TIMES INTERNATIONAL [in Farsi], June 12, 2009, at 1 & 8.)