TEHRAN, Iran – A woman sentenced to death for killing a police official who tried to rape her has been pardoned by the victim's family, a judiciary official said Wednesday, a welcome resolution to a 7-year-old case that had garnered intense interest at home and abroad.
The family of Behzad Moghaddam has agreed to monetary compensation of $62,500 rather than seeking the execution of Afsaneh Nowrouzi (search), the official said.
Nowrouzi, now 34, stabbed Moghaddam to death in 1997, cutting off his penis and placing it on his chest. She said she was defending herself against rape by Moghaddam, the police chief on the tourist island of Kish in the Persian Gulf.
In Iran, a married woman who is raped can be convicted of adultery and sentenced to death. If she kills the attempted rapist, she can be tried for murder and sentenced to death.
The Kish court rejected the self-defense claim and sentenced Nowrouzi to death in 2001, raising an outcry from women activists and attracting the attention of international groups who sought to overturn the sentence.
Under pressure, Iran's head of judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, ordered a stay of the verdict late last year. Moghaddam's family this week agreed to monetary compensation rather than Nowrouzi's execution.
"With the efforts of judiciary officials, family members of the victim were convinced to give up retribution in this case and signed in a notary public office not to demand death for Nowrouzi in exchange for blood money," said Mohsen Yektan-Khodaei, a top provincial judiciary official.
Yektan-Khodaei said judiciary officials had urged Moghaddam's mother and his two children to show mercy to Nowrouzi, a mother of two.
But Nowrouzi's lawyer, Abdolsamad Khorramshahi, said his client never sought mercy because she believed she had justly defended herself.
"The victim's family members did a good thing signing documents not calling for Nowrouzi's death despite my client's refusal to request mercy," he said.
Judiciary official Mohammad Javad Yavari said the death sentence cannot be brought against Nowrouzi again and she is expected to be freed soon.
Women's rights activist and lawyer Sara Irani (search) praised the resolution of the case.
"Nowrouzi's freedom will give new breath to women to find the courage to stand up for their rights and defend themselves," Irani said.