Tehran, Sep. 17 - The lawyer representing the relatives of Atefeh Rajabi, the 16-year-old girl who was hanged last month (Aug. 15th) in the town of Neka, northern Iran, has filed a lawsuit on their behalf. Mr. Shadi Sadr, who was retained to help prove Atefehs innocence, stated that after examining Atefehs documentation he was convinced that she was in fact 16 years old at the time her execution and not 22 as Iranian Judiciary spokespersons had claimed. Judiciary officials have admitted that Atefeh was executed but said she was 22 to justify her hanging.
Many observers note that such a tactic was only meant to divert attention from the fact that the offence Atefeh allegedly committed did not even carry the death penalty. Iran Focus first quoted Haji Rezai, the religious judge in the case, as saying that he had Atefeh hanged for her sharp tongue.
Mr. Sadr was quoted as saying: Under Irans Islamic Law, girls over 9 years of age are punishable for the crime of chastity and it appears that the execution of a 16 year old girl is viewed as an appropriate punishment.
According to judicial records, by the time Atefeh was 16, she had been convicted five times of having sex with unmarried men. Each time, she spent time in jail and was given 100 lashes. Under Irans law, punishment for having sex with a married man is much harsher.
The Iranian regime routinely executes minors. An Afghan boy, Feiz Mohammad, 16, was sentenced to death in Iran last month. Death sentences have also been issued for three other boys by the names of Ali M., Morteza F. and Milad B. who are presently held in the Center for Reform and Education (Juvenile Prison). While all three were under 18 when they allegedly committed their crimes, their death sentences are going to be carried out soon as they turn 18.