Mohammad Latif, a minor on death row, was freed yesterday from Saveh prison in Iran. After substantial efforts by his attorney Mohammad Mostafaei, and the efforts of human rights advocates, the family of the victim agreed to pardon him. In August of 2007, Nazanin Afshin-Jam received an email from Mohammad’s father, asking for help to "bring worldwide attention to the injustice faced by his son" who was sentenced to death at age 14 for defending himself from an 18-year-old boy named Mansour Kayaee. Nazanin Afshin-Jam immediately called Mohammad’s father and also contacted Mostafaei and asked him to defend Mohammad. Subsequently Mr. Mostafaei spoke with Mr. Latif and later visited Mohammad in jail and took the case.
In his letter, Mr. Latif had explained that his son was 14 years 11 month and 23 days old when he was attacked by Mansour and accidentally killed him while trying to take away his knife. Now at age 17 years and 9 months, Mr. Latif was concerned that his son could be executed in 3 months after his 18th birthday. Mr. Latif had previously written to the head of Judiciary Ayatollah Shahroudi, the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the head of the Iranian Parliament asking for help, however his letters were not replied. Mr. Latif said that even according to Iran’s Islamic Sharia, Mohammad was not seen as an adult before the law. The legal age of maturity for boys is 15 years of age. Official documents signed by the Ministry of Health had also confirmed that Mohammad was mentally not considered mature at the time of incident Mr. Latif had acquired written confirmation from Ayatollahs Behjat and Makarem Shirazi, that if there was any doubt about the maturity of the accused, they could not carry out the execution. This written confirmation was moot after a separate medical examination was conducted one year later assessing Mohammad an adult because the hair on his body confirmed he was past the age of puberty!Upon learning the news, SCE immediately informed other governments and human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and the International Committee Against Executions ICAE).
In October 2007, after ICAE had contacted the Swedish Government, a few Members of Parliament sent a letter to Supreme Leader of the Islamic regime, Ayatollah Khamenei and Iran's Embassy in Sweden expressing their concern about the imminent execution of Mohammad Latif. In December 2007, SCE was notified that Mohammad's execution was approved by the Supreme Court and was sent to Ayatollah Shahroudi for final approval. A chain effect ensued whereby SCE immediately issued an international urgent call. ICAE contacted the Swedish Foreign Ministry who notified the Swedish embassy in Teheran who then officially expressed their concern to Iran's Foreign Ministry. Soon thereafter, the EU President issued a statement expressing his deep concern on behalf of the entire European Union.
Faced with international pressure, Ayatollah Shahroudi sent the file back for mediation between the families of the victim and Mohammad where he was ultimately pardoned. According to Iran's Sharia Ghisas law, it is up to the victim's family to decide the final fate of the person who is sentenced to death for murder.
When Mohammad Latif was released from prison he went to the cemetery and cried on Mansour’s grave asking for forgiveness. After 3 years in prison and facing execution, the 18-year-old Mohammad said that the victim never left his mind. Although he was in a state of shock when he was released he said, "I never intended to kill him and that is why I felt like I will not be executed. When asked about his opinion of the legal process of his file, he replied: “I was not happy with it. The death sentence was unjust".
" I would like to continue with my schooling. While in prison, I improved my studies through distance education" Mohammad Latif Added.
Nazanin Afshin-Jam and Stop Child Executions thank Mr. Mohammad Mostafaei for representing Mohammad Latif, Ms. Masoumeh Ebtekar for mediations, International Committee Against Executions for contacting European authorities, Swedish parliament members, foreign ministry and embassy, 42 European countries represented by its president, his Excellency Mr. Jose Manuel Barroso,human rights advocates inside and outside Iran and all the volunteers and supporters of Stop Child Executions Campaign for saving the life of another juvenile on the executions row.
To help save the life of more than 100 other children facing execution visit www.stopchildexecutions.com .
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