TEHRAN – Zeinab Sekaavand was arrested for stabbing her husband, Hossein Sarmadi, whom she had married at the age of 15 and at the hands of whom she had been repeatedly abused, both physically and verbally.
After 20 days of being beaten and tortured in a police station by male police officers, she confessed before she could have access to a state-appointed lawyer. However, before her final trial session in a criminal court in West Azerbaijan Province in October 2014, Sekaavand withdrew her confession.
She told the judge that her brother-in-law, who she claimed had raped her, had committed the crime. Crime scene reconstruction did not help and neither did the lack of proofs. With grey areas still remaining, the case didn’t go in her favour.
Subsequently, her withdrawal was ignored by the Iranian judiciary and the court did not apply any juvenile sentencing provisions to her case, and ultimately she was sentenced to the death penalty.
Amnesty International had warned Iran regarding the “unfair trial” of the child bride, who murdered her abusive husband.
“This is an extremely disturbing case,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International. “Not only was Zeinab Sekaanvand under 18 years of age at the time of the crime, she was also denied access to a lawyer.”
Her execution was postponed after falling pregnant by another prisoner. Recently she gave birth to a stillborn child due to the shock of her cellmate’s execution in Euromieh central prison.
Although her unfair trial was condemned by human right activists, following her accouchement, Iranian judicial authorities determined her imminent execution as soon as this week.
Iran has signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which outlaws the killing of anyone under the age of 18. However, their authorities plans to execute Sekaanvand even though she was 17 at the time of her alleged crime.
The rate of death penalty is high in Iran, although it has been denounced by human rights activists and the international community.
– Aida Amir Aslani, Correspondent (Asia: Middle East)