Middle East
Iranian acid attack victim pardons culprit
Woman blinded by former classmate forgives him, thereby sparing him of retributive blinding by state eye specialist.
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2011 15:17
Bahrami was blinded in both eyes after having acid hurled in her face by a university classmate [AFP]

An Iranian man convicted of throwing acid in the face of a female student has been pardoned from being blinded himself as punishment, a state-run television website has said.

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

"With the request of Ameneh Bahrami, the acid attack victim, Majid, who was sentenced for 'qesas' ['eye for an eye' justice] was pardoned at the last minute" after she decided to forgo her right, the website said.

The court-ordered blinding of Movahedi was originally postponed at the 11th hour in mid-May, with no official reason given.

Bahrami told the ISNA news agency she pardoned her attacker because "God talks about 'qesas' in the Koran but he also recommends pardon since pardon is greater than 'qesas'".

"I struggled for seven years for this verdict to prove to people that the person who hurls acid should be punished through 'qesas', but today I pardoned him because it was my right.," she said.

"I did it for my country, since all other countries were looking to see what we would do."

Pardon hailed

Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, a Tehran prosecutor, hailed Bahrami's decision, but also said that the judiciary would have carried out the blinding sentence.

"Today in hospital the blinding of Majid Movahedi was to have been carried out in the presence of an eye specialist and judiciary representative, when Ameneh pardoned him," the ISNA news agency quoted Jafari Dolatabadi as saying.

"However, she demanded blood money for her injuries," Jafari Dolatabadi said, referring to compensation allocated to the victims of violent crimes when they suffer serious injuries, without elaborating.

"The judiciary was serious about implementing the verdict, and Ameneh by her courageous act pardoned the 'qesas' of this man," Jafari Dolatabadi said.

In mid-May, Arman newspaper quoted Bahrami as saying: "I want two million euros to guarantee my life and my future, not for treatment.

"It is only then that I will give up 'qesas' against Majid, although they said - and I hope it is true - that the sentence will be carried out next week."

ISNA on Sunday quoted Bahrami's mother as saying she was proud of her.

"I am proud of my daughter ... Ameneh had the strength to forgive Majid. This forgiveness will calm Ameneh and our family," she said.

'Cruel punishment'

Amnesty International said in a statement on Sunday that the case highlighted the need for legal reforms in Iran as the "cruel punishment which amounts to torture [is] prohibited under international law".

Iran's Islamic sharia law code provides for retributive justice, most commonly for murder or for those convicted of causing intentional physical injury.

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

She is blind in both eyes and still has serious injuries to her face and body.

Several acid attacks have been reported in Iran in recent years.

The press has been generally supportive of Bahrami, publishing sympathetic interviews with her and photographs of her face before and after the attack.

In December 2010, the supreme court upheld another sentence of blinding handed down against a man convicted of an acid attack against his wife's lover that deprived him of his sight, but there has been no reported confirmation of it being carried out.

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