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Iran hangs woman convicted of killing alleged rapist

Rights advocates denounce execution of Reyhaneh Jabbari, who stabbed a man she says tried to rape her as a teenager

A 26-year-old Iranian woman convicted of murdering a man she accused of trying to rape her as a teenager was hanged Saturday, the official news agency IRNA said. The sentence was carried out despite international pleas for her life to be spared.

Reyhaneh Jabbari walked to the gallows at dawn in Tehran's Evin prison after failing to secure a reprieve from the murder victim's relatives within the 10-day deadline set by Sharia law, which has been in force since the country’s 1979 revolution.

Justice Minister Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi said in early October that a "good ending" to the case was in sight, but official media reported later that the slain man's family could not be persuaded to approve leniency for Jabbari.

IRNA quoted the court as rejecting the claim of attempted rape and saying all evidence proved that Jabbari had plotted to kill Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a former intelligence agent. The court ruling said Jabbari stabbed Sarbandi in the back in 2007 after purchasing a knife two days earlier.

Jabbari had pleaded self-defense, but failed to sway judges at various stages of appeal up to Iran's Supreme Court. She has remained in prison throughout.

Her last chance of reprieve lay with clerical Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose powers transcend all state mandates. But Khamenei never mentioned the case, and has only rarely intervened in court cases regardless of political considerations.

Immediately after Saturday's execution, the Tehran state prosecutor's office issued a statement that appeared aimed at countering sympathy for Jabbari.

"Jabbari had repeatedly confessed to premeditated murder, then tried to divert the case from its course by inventing the rape charge," said the statement carried by IRNA.

"But all her efforts to feign innocence were proven false in various phases of prosecution. Evidence was firm. She had informed a friend through text message of her intention to kill. It was ascertained that she had purchased the murder weapon, a kitchen knife, two days before committing murder."

London-based rights group Amnesty International condemned the execution after what it called "a deeply flawed investigation and trial."

“This is another bloody stain on Iran’s human rights record,” Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa regions, said in a statement. “Tragically, this case is far from uncommon. Once again Iran has insisted on applying the death penalty despite serious concerns over the fairness of the trial.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed alarm at a reported increase in executions in Iran, which according to Amnesty has the second-highest rate of capital punishment in the world, after China.

The U.S.-based Iran Human Rights Documentation Center put the total number of executions at 531 for this year, as of Sept. 30.

Wire services

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