Saturday, May 14, 2011

Acid blinding sentence postponed by Iran after international outcry (Guardian, 14 May 2011)

Courtesy: "Guardian, UK", 14 May 2011
Acid blinding sentence postponed by Iran after international outcry
Eye-for-an-eye punishment of Majid Movahedi put on hold despite calls by his disfigured victim, Ameneh Bahrami, for retribution
By Saeed Kamali Dehghan
Iran has postponed blinding a man with acid following an international outcry over the retributive punishment imposed after he was found guilty of doing the same to a woman who refused to marry him.
In a literal application of the sharia law of an eye for an eye, Majid Movahedi was scheduled to be rendered unconscious in Tehran's judiciary hospital today while his victim, Ameneh Bahrami, dropped acid in both his eyes.
But Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency reported that officials had postponed the sentence on Friday night and not indicated when the punishment might be carried out in future.
Bahrami, who had asked for an eye-for-an-eye retribution in a criminal court in Tehran, was not informed of the postponement.

In a highly publicised dossier in November 2008 the court ordered qisas (retribution) on Movahedi after he admitted throwing a jar of acid in his victim's face while she was returning home from work in 2004.
Bahrami, who was left blind and disfigured by the attack, told the court in 2008: "He was holding a red container in his hand. He looked into my eyes for a second and threw the contents of the red container into my face."
Movahedi was required to pay compensation. Bahrami refused to accept the "blood money" and told the court: "Inflict the same life on him that he inflicted on me."
Iranian officials have endorsed the sentence in the hope of halting an increase in the rate of acid attacks. But human rights activists have warned against an "inhumane" sentence.
"It is unbelievable that the Iranian authorities would consider implementing such a punishment," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme.
"Regardless of how horrific the crime suffered by Ameneh Bahrami, being blinded with acid is a cruel and inhuman punishment amounting to torture and the Iranian authorities have a responsibility under international law to ensure it does not go ahead."
Since the attack Bahrami has undergone 17 operations, including an unsuccessful attempt to reconstruct her face in Spain. Her injuries led to the loss of one eye and although she recovered 40% of her sight in the remaining eye an infection in 2007 left her totally blind.
Bahrami has consistently demanded retribution for her injuries and has insisted that the punishment be carried out.


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