x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Acid-attack victim spares man she spurned from retribution blinding

Last-minute pardon by woman who was left blind in both eyes and still has serious injuries to her face and body spares suitor who attacked her with acid for rejecting him from being blinded himself.

Ameneh Bahrami arrives at her home with her father in Tehran yesterday after pardoning her attacker. Raheb Homavandi / Reuters
Ameneh Bahrami arrives at her home with her father in Tehran yesterday after pardoning her attacker. Raheb Homavandi / Reuters

TEHRAN // An Iranian man convicted of throwing acid in the face of a female student who was to have been blinded himself yesterday in retribution was pardoned by his victim, the state-run television website said.

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

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

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

Ms Bahrami told the ISNA news agency she pardoned her attacker because "God talks about 'qesas' in the Quran 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.

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

Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi hailed Ms 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," he was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency.

"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, but he did not elaborate.

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

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 yesterday quoted Ms 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.

Amnesty International had previously called for a stay of the sentence, which it described as "a cruel and inhuman punishment amounting to torture."

The Islamic sharia code in force in Iran provides for retributive justice, most commonly for murder or for those convicted of causing intentional physical injury.

Ms 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, and the press has been generally supportive of Ms 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 to blinding handed down against a man convicted of an acid attack against his wife's lover that deprived him of his sight.

There has been no confirmation of it ever being carried out.