Iranian girl on execution row since 13 freed after 18 years

According to Etemaad newspaper in Iran, Soghra Najafpour the Iranian girl who was sentenced to execution since the age of 13 was released today after 18 years.

Soghar was sentenced to death for alleged murder of a young child. Soghra had always denied the charges. She has spent all of her adult life , 18 years, in prison and is now 30 years old.  If not female, at the age of 12, Soghra would not have been sentenced to death, because according to Iran’s Islamic Sharia law a girl at 9 and a boy at 13 is considered an adult. 

Stop Child Executions Campaign had reported Soghra’s anticipated release in May 2007.

Soghra was once taken to be executed but appealed last minute. Soghra’s family live in a small village in Northern Iran near Caspian Sea. She was being presented by Nasrin Sotoudeh who is also the attorney for Sina Paymard, another boy who is anticipated to be released soon. According to Ms. Sotoudeh, there are  “many more” children facing executions in smaller towns. “These have not been reported in the press nor do they appear in officials records” she said.

Soghra is a girl with long straight hair and frightened green eyes who was known by the volunteers at Rasht prison, a city in northern Iran near Caspian sea, as the longest kept prisoner. She who was hired at the age of 9 as a servant in a Doctor’s home, but 4 years later she was accused of murder of the 8 year old son of the family. At the time 13 year old Soghra confessed to murder but soon after she denied any involvement and blamed her older boyfriend for it. Death of an 8 year old boy by a mature man rather than by a small framed, slim 13 year old girl seemed more logical and deserved more investigation but judges had already sentenced her to death and therefore discounted her story claiming that such man never existed and did not believe Soghra who said the reason for her initial silence was because she used to be in love with him.

17 years later, she has lost her teeth, takes strong antidepressant medications, been under surgery a few times and her hand shakes at the age of 30. She talks about her childhood that how her poor parents in return for a sack of rice sent her to serve at the “Doctor’s” home and how at the age of 13 she was sentenced to death for the murder that she did not commit.

Soghra knows Delara Darabi, another prison mate who was sentenced to death at the age of 17. Unlike Soghra who did not have a chance to attend school, Delara has high school education and that is why she helped Soghra with filling out her legal paperwork. After all not only they were the only two children in that prison who were sentenced to death, but they both used to be in love with men who took advantage of their childhood innocence. 

Nazanin Afshin-Jam and Stop Child Executions Campaign are very happy about the news of freedom of Soghar Najafpour and thank her attorney Mrs. Nasrin Sotoudeh and everyone who helped gain Soghra’s freedom. We also thank all the volunteers and supporters of Stop Child Executions Campaign for spreading Soghra’s story.

Looking forward to the day that no child in Iran and the world is given the execution verdict

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