Saturday, June 03, 2006

Hopes rise for Iranian woman on death row

An Iranian teenager may be spared the hangman's noose.
Amnesty International is investigating a news report in an Iranian paper that the death sentence of an 18-year-old woman, convicted of killing a man who was trying to rape her, has been overturned and sent for retrial.
"If this is true, this is such amazing news," said Nazanin Afshin-Jam, a former beauty queen in Vancouver who launched an international campaign to save the life of Nazanin Fatehi, a poor, uneducated ethnic Kurd.
Her campaign was featured on the front page of yesterday's Globe and Mail.
John Tackaberry, of Amnesty International Canada, said Amnesty's Iran researchers say that the newspaper Hamshahri reported yesterday that following a request by the head of the Iranian judiciary, the country's supreme court has stayed Ms. Fatehi's earlier sentence.
"We are trying to get the full details, but at this point I understand that the supreme court rejected the death sentence against her, apparently on the orders of the head of the judiciary, Ayatollah Shahrudi," Mr. Tackaberry said.
Ms. Afshin-Jam said she is trying to confirm the report through the German-based International Committee Against Executions, headed by an Iranian exile, and through Ms. Fatehi's lawyer.
"This is amazing, if true. I hope they free her altogether," she said.
Ms. Afshin-Jam, 26, came to Canada as an infant after her family fled Iran during the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Schooled in political science and international relations, she was Canada's representative at the 2003 Miss World competition and came in second place.
She spearheaded a campaign to free Ms. Fatehi after learning about her plight. In her appeal, Ms. Afshin-Jam got the support of high-profile figures such as Liberal MP Belinda Stronach and former Liberal foreign minister Lloyd Axworthy.
According to information compiled by Amnesty International, three men tried to rape Ms. Fatehi and her niece. In defending herself, Ms. Fatehi stabbed and killed one of the men

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