The Tehran government has postponed Tuesday’s scheduled execution of a 26-year-old Iranian woman charged with killing a man accused of attempting to rape her.
Following last minute pleas, the regime pushed back the hanging of Rayhaneh Jabbari, who was headed to the gallows on charges that in 2007 she stabbed and killed Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a former employee of the Iranian Intelligence Ministry.
The government announced that the execution will be postponed but did not give any indication the sentence had been overturned. It also did not disclose if any future execution date had been set.
Jabbari, who has already served seven years in prison, claims Sarbandi drugged her and attempted to have physical contact with her.
Activists around the globe have been working tirelessly to prove Jabbari’s innocence and to have her death sentence revoked.
Then 19-year-old Jabbari met Sarbandi at a café, where he learned that she was an interior designer. He then asked her to meet him in his office to discuss a remodeling project, according to Jabbari’s accounts.
When Jabbari arrived, she realized the location, a remote, rundown site, did not resemble an office. At that time, Sarbandi offered her a fruit juice, which contained a date-rape drug, or “roofie,” based on forensic tests conducted by the police during investigation and related to Fox News by human rights activists.
Jabbari then attempted to defend herself by stabbing Sarbandi in the shoulder with a small pocket knife and fled the scene. Sarbandi bled to death, and Jabbari was later arrested and imprisoned.
“She has been tortured in so many ways in prison. They may have pressured her to confess,” said Shabnam Assadollahi, an Iranian activist based in Canada.
Assadollahi and three other women, Nazanin Afshin-Jam, Shadi Paveh and Mina Ahadi, launched an international campaign to shed light on Jabbari's case
They successfully circulated a petition that gathered more than 126,700 signatures from around the world.
“This is a verdict of "Ghessas" ["an eye for an eye"], but the details of the case don’t make sense,” Assadollhai said.
Jabbari’s family and advocates, including Assadollahi, have pointed to the fact that a small pocket knife and two stabs in the shoulder would not result in fatal consequences for a large man, which is how Sarbandi was described.
Those petitioning against her execution believe that a third party may have been involved in the case and that Jabbari was set up. There is also skepticism that there may have been interference in the case and that crucial evidence that would potentially save Jabbari’s life was either tampered with or destroyed.
Ahmed Shaheed, the United Nations’ special investigator on human rights also spoke up against the execution, stating that Jabbari did not receive a fair trial and that she should be re-tried because she acted out of self-defense.