Middle East
Iran postpones acid blinding punishment
Court-ordered blinding of Iranian man who hurled acid in the face of a university classmate has been postponed.
Last Modified: 14 May 2011 09:29

Ameneh Bahrami was blinded by a man who threw acid in her face for turning down his marriage proposal [AFP]

The court-ordered blinding of an Iranian man who hurled acid in the face of university classmate Ameneh Bahrami has been postponed.

The sentence had been scheduled to be carried out at noon (7:30am GMT) on Saturday at the judiciary hospital in Tehran in the presence of a physician and representatives of the coroners' office and the prosecution.

Al Jazeera's Dorsa Jabari, reporting from Tehran, said: "The victim showed up at the hospital this morning where she was told that because of various interviews she had granted western media, the judiciary officials had decided to postpone carrying out the punishment, which is five drops of sulfuric acid in each eye."

"The execution of qesas (retribution in kind) of Majid (Movahedi)... has been postponed to an unknown date," the ISNA news agency reported on its website just hours before the appointed time.

Movahedi was sentenced to be blinded in both eyes in February 2009 after being convicted of hurling acid in the face of Bahrami when she repeatedly spurned his offer of marriage.

His victim, who has been the driving force behind the sentence, had travelled to the Iranian capital from Spain in the expectation of it being carried out and had even said she was ready to do the blinding herself.

"I was very happy that this was going to end today. And yes, I was going to carry out the punishment myself, but I was afraid that I would get acid on my hands, so a doctor is going to do it. It's been six years that I've been waiting for this day," Bahrami told Al Jazeera.

"The verdict is completely legal and I would like to carry it out. But if it is not possible, then the physician designated by the judiciary will do it," she said.

It would be first time such a penalty was carried out in Iran. Amnesty International had called on Friday for a stay of the sentence, which it described as "a cruel and inhuman punishment amounting to torture".

"Regardless of how horrific the crime suffered by Ameneh Bahrami, being blinded with acid is a cruel and inhuman punishment amounting to torture," the London-based human rights watchdog said.

"The Iranian authorities have a responsibility under international law to ensure it does not go ahead."

The Islamic sharia code in force in Iran provides for 'eye-for-an-eye'-style retributive justice, most commonly for murder, or those convicted of causing intentional physical injury.

Bahrami, who was 24 when she met Movahedi in 2002, now lives in Spain where she has been undergoing medical treatment for her disfigurement for years.

She is blind in both eyes and still has serious injuries to her face and body. She told ISNA that the implementation of qesas would serve as a lesson for other acid throwers in the country.

"I still strongly stand with the carrying out of the qesas. I want qesas. I will become more serene," she told the news agency on May 11.

"This serenity will not stem from the culprit suffering hardship and pain but that (with the carrying out of the sentence) there is the probability of more deterrence regarding those who want to commit this crime."

A number of acid attacks have been reported in Iran in recent years.

Al Jazeera and agencies
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