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Iran: American-Iranian Woman Pardons Youth Accused of Killing Her Sister

(Dec. 22, 2009) A news item reported in November 2009 offers a vivid illustration of the workings of the Iranian criminal justice system. Facing a murder charge in a criminal court in Tehran, Majid, a youth who was working in a house as a cleaner and who was a crack addict, confessed to having killed the 74-year-old woman who was the owner of the house, in order to steal her jewels and cash. He admitted to having pushed the woman from behind and to letting her fall down and become unconscious. Then he fled the place.

Following a lengthy trial, the criminal court found Majid guilty and gave him a death sentence. Under the Islamic law of retaliation, Majid could either be executed or be pardoned by the legal survivor of the crime victim and saved from execution through payment of blood money to the survivor.

The survivor of the murdered woman is her only sister, who is a U.S. citizen living in the United States. She returned to Iran to attend the trial of the man accused of having murdered her sister. At its conclusion, moved by the expression of remorse by the young man and the circumstances of the event, she decided to use her right to pardon the killer and to receive the stipulated amount of blood money, which she donated to a charitable institution. (Iranian Woman Pardoned Young Man Accused of Killing Her Sister [in Farsi], IRAN TIMES INTERNATIONAL, Nov. 20, 2009, at 9.)