AI Index: MDE13/098/2008
25 July 2008
Further Information on 271/07 (MDE/124/2007, 23 October 2007) Death Penalty / Fear of Imminent Execution
Soghra Najafpour (f), aged 31
Soghra Najafpour has been sentenced to death, for the second time, for a murder which took place when she was only 13 years old. She is in prison in the northern city of Rasht, where she has spent most of the last 19 years.
Soghra Najafpour was released on bail of 600 million Iranian rials (almost US$66,000) on 1 October 2007. She returned to prison later that month to comply with a summons which followed a new demand by the family of the murder victim for her execution to be carried out after they heard of her release.
On 23 October 2007, Soghra Najafpour's lawyer petitioned the Office of the Head of the Judiciary to reinvestigate her case on account of serious flaws, following which her sentence of qesas (retribution) was overturned by the Supreme Court. The case was sent back for retrial in another branch of the General Court in Rasht. At the second trial, she was again found guilty and sentenced to qesas and remains at risk of execution.
At the age of nine, Soghra Najafpour was sent by her family to work as a servant in a doctor's home in the city of Rasht. After Soghra Najafpour had been working for the family for four years, the eight-year-old son of the family went missing. She was accused of the boy's murder when his body was found in a well a few days later. Soghra Najafpour initially denied the murder, but after repeated interrogation, confessed to committing it. Her confession was taken as proof of her guilt and she was sentenced to qesas.
In Soghra Najafpour's appeal against her sentence she wrote, “I didn't kill the eight-year-old boy, but I know who killed him and because of his request, I had to be silent. He had promised to get the victim’s mother to forgive me and to save me.” She added, “When I was nine, I was raped, and with the threats I received, I was forced to be silent, and on the day of the accident, I had a storeroom to clean and the same man who abused me came looking for me, and the boy, who was playing, came into the storeroom all of a sudden and saw me being abused. That man threw the boy against the wall and, in one instant, his head hit the wall and he lost consciousness. I couldn't move the boy’s corpse, but that man wanted me to throw the body in the well.”
Her appeal was rejected and following a medical examination, Soghra Najafpour also received a sentence of flogging for fornication, despite her claim to have been raped. The man she had claimed was her abuser was acquitted because he did not confess to raping her and there was no other evidence to prove he was the perpetrator.
On two occasions, when Soghra Najafpour was 17 and 21, she was taken to be executed but the family of the victim changed their minds at the last minute. Soghra Najafpour will continue to seek to prove her innocence.