Thursday, August 5, 2010

Brody's Notes... Iranian Teen Faces Hanging For False Gay Assault Charges

Gay Iranian Teens Executed in 2005   Photo By Reuters

By Brody Levesque (Washington DC) AUG 5 | An 18 year old Iranian youth is awaiting his hanging to be carried out after an Islamic Court had sentenced him to be executed for an alleged Gay sexual assault two years ago. At the time, then 16 year old Ebrahim Hamidi, was reported to local police authorities as being part of a fight between two families with three other men after a fight  outside the city of Tabriz in the Iranian province of East Azerbaijan, where the victim told police that Hamidi & the other men tried to strip him and sexually assault him. The group were arrested in July of 2008.
The men say they were tortured in prison, with Hamidi signing a confession which he later testified was not true. All four were tried in two consecutive provincial criminal courts and were sentenced to execution. During their third trial, three of the men were cleared of all charges but Mr Hamidi was sentenced to execution on June 21st this year.
According to the Iranian Penal Code; Sexual intercourse between members of the same sex is considered to be a crime punishable by death for men and by lashing for women (Islam Penal Code of Iran, Article 108-134). Any man found guilty of having penetrative sex with another male should be killed, whether the sex is consensual or not. It does not matter whether the other party is a minor or adult (Islamic Penal Code of Iran, Article 108).
On July 7th, of this year the man who made the original accusation withdrew it, telling police in a written statement that he had made up the claim under parental pressure.
The Supreme Court of Iran has twice rejecting the lower court's rulings on the case because of shortcomings in the judicial investigation and has twice rejected the provincial court's guilty verdict and death sentence and ordered a re-examination of the case. This ruling has been ignored by the local judiciary in East Azerbaijan province. It ordered a re-examination of the case. Yet the provincial court still insists on executing Ebrahim.
Peter Tatchell of the London-based LGBTI human rights group OutRage! said in a press statement:
"Ebrahim's case shows the flaws and failings of the Iranian legal system. It is further evidence that innocent people are sentenced on false charges of homosexuality," 
Saghi Ghahraman, a spokesperson for the Canadian-based Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO) in an interview, stated that: “execution is an inhumane and brutal punishment.” She added that this: “specific case which is tied, for no reason, to homosexuality”, is completely without foundation and unjust. This law is not only wrong in condemning to death innocent people but damages families and severely scars whole communities. Ghahraman was deeply alarmed by the execution order for Ebrahim Hamidi. She reiterates that Hamidi is not even “accused of homosexuality, but of sexual harassment based on a false accusation, without any evidence,” by a mere decision of a judge.
The is reporting that Hamidi was represented by the human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei but Mr Mostafaei has gone into hiding after a warrant for his arrest was issued. The lawyer is also representing Sakineh Ashtiani, the Iranian woman who has been sentenced to death by stoning on charges of adultery.
Supporters of Mr Hamidi say that while Ms Ashtiani is unlikely to face death because she has international support, he could be executed at any time.
Peter Tatchell also noted that:
"An international campaign can help stop Ebrahim's execution, just as a similar global campaign has, so far, halted the stoning to death of Sakineh Ashtiani."