Iran: Young man faces execution despite international protests

Tehran, 6 May (AKI) - A 20-year-old Iranian is due to be executed on Wednesday for a crime he allegedly committed as a teenager despite international efforts to save his life.

Behnoud Shojai was found guilty of murder after allegedly killing another young man in a park in Tehran during a fight three years ago.

He reportedly stabbed the man with a shard of glass after he was threatened with a knife.

Behnoud, 17-years-old at the time of the crime, will be hanged in what is Iran's second execution of an alleged criminal who was underage at the time of the crime.

On Monday the European parliament asked Iranian authorities to suspend the execution of Behnoud, while Amnesty International has also appealed to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei and president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to commute the death sentence.

Iran has ratified international treaties including the convention on the rights of the child, which forbids capital punishment for underage youth who commit crimes.

In Iran young men are considered to be adults from the age of 14 and young women from the age of eight and a half, and therefore responsible for any crimes that they commit.

Last weekend 12 people were hanged in the Iranian cities of Ahwaz, Birjand and Mashhad.

The group was accused of drug trafficking, assault with a weapon and rape.

Last week 80 death sentences were issued by the tribunal in Mashhad, Iran's second largest city, 850 kilometres east of Tehran, said Iran's privately owned news agency Fars.

Eighty-four people have been executed in Iran since 2008, while 317 people were executed in Iran in 2007.

Iran has one of the highest rates of capital punishment in the world.

A report by Amnesty International says that since 1990, Iran has executed at least 28 child offenders, six of them in 2007.

At least 86 child offenders are currently on death row in Iran, although Amnesty International says this number may be higher as at least a further 15 Afghan child offenders have reportedly been sentenced to death recently.


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