An 18-year-old Iranian boy is set to be executed on charges of sodomy, although the accusations against him have been proved false. His attorney, Mohammad Mostafaei, was recently forced to flee the country after drawing international attention to another one of his clients, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who has been sentenced to stoning for adultery. The boy, Ebrahim Hamidi, is heterosexual, and was arrested two years ago along with three other young men after a violent incident with members of another family. The four boys were later accused of sexually assaulting another man.
Hamidi confessed to the crime, allegedly under torture. The other three were released after testifying against Hamidi. But last month, the victim admitted that he had been under pressure from his parents to make false accusations. The laws against sodomy in Iran are fairly draconian. The Guardian reports that “a person convicted of homosexuality in Iran can be lashed, hanged or stoned to death. The law includes a variety of penalties for different acts: 99 lashes if two unrelated males sleep “unnecessarily” under the same blanket – even without any sexual contact. A boy raped by an adult man would also be lashed if the court decided that he had “enjoyed” the experience.”
Many of these are subjective judgments and not based on conclusive evidence, and often, defendants are subject to the whims of the judiciary. Such is the case with Hamidi, who was convicted under “judge’s knowledge”, what the Guardian describes as “a legal loophole that allows for subjective judicial rulings where there is no conclusive evidence.”
“It’s shocking that although Hamidi’s accuser admitted in a recorded testimony that he had lied, he is still facing execution,” Mostafaei, Hamidi’s lawyer, said. Many are worried for Hamidi because his lawyer was forced to flee the country, although he is trying to continue his campaigns for his clients from Norway. We can only hope that the Iranian government will not do the unthinkable, and execute an innocent teenager for a crime that he clearly did not commit.
Photo from Flickr.