January 20, 2007

Press Release: Islamic Court in Iran Spares Teenage Girl From Death Penalty

For Immediate Release
January 16, 2007

Islamic Court in Iran Spares Teenage Girl From Death Penalty After Canadian Namesake - Recording Artist and Former Miss World Canada Nazanin - Wages International Media Campaign to Save Her Life

After initiating an international campaign to save the life of her Iranian namesake, human rights activist, Bodog Music recording artist and former Miss Canada Nazanin Afshin-Jam received confirmation Sunday that the murder charge against 19-year-old Nazanin Fatehi has been dropped. Nazanin Afshin-Jam's relentless campaign included a petition signed by 330,000 people, countless speeches and rallies worldwide and months on the media circuit as well as support from the International Committee Against Execution, Amnesty International, Canadian members of Parliament, the European Union and the United Nations. The effort appears to have been successful and Nazanin Fatehi may be released from prison within a week.

Fatehi was sentenced to death for murder by a court in Iran after she stabbed, in self-defense, one of three men who attempted to rape her and her 15-year-old niece in a park in Karaj, a suburb of Tehran, in March 2005. She was 17 at the time. On June 1, 2006, following extensive international pressure and news coverage, the Head of Judiciary, Ayatollah Shahroudi, announced a stay of execution and a new trial.

During the new trial on January 10, 2007, the four judges presiding over the case found inconsistencies with the testimonies of the male witnesses and unanimously ruled out premeditated murder. No verdict was announced.

On January 14, 2007, the Iranian Court recognized the incident as an act of self-defense and commuted Nazanin’s death sentence. However, the court ruled that Fatehi used excessive force while trying to defend herself and her niece from the three attackers. In accordance with that ruling, the court has asked Fatehi to pay "dieh" (blood money) to receive a pardon from the family of the deceased. Once this amount is paid, Fatehi can be released from prison.

Fatehi’s lawyers, Shadi Sadr and Mr. Mostafaei, will appeal the order for payment of blood money because they contend that Fatehi only acted in self-defense.

This appeal may take several months, so in the meantime arrangements may be made to have Nazanin released from prison by paying "bail" money into court. Formal documentation should be available within days, including further details and specifics including the cost of bail and blood money.

To raise the level of awareness about this particular case, Nazanin Afshin-Jam, former Miss World runner-up, hosted a compelling documentary entitled "The Tale of Two Nazanins" produced by the Calvin Ayre Foundation, which can be viewed at www.Bodog.TV . The 30 minute documentary captures emotionally charged footage of Nazanin Fatehi in a desperate call to her family by phone from death row in prison as well as candid footage of Nazanin Afshin-Jam in her struggle to bring attention to the teen girl’s desperate situation, featuring supporting interviews with politicians and human rights experts.

"We are very relieved to hear that Nazanin Fatehi has been spared her life. This was a joint effort by the international community and the media to raise awareness about this particular case and about the plight of other girls who face a similar fate," Nazanin Afshin-Jam said. "However, I strongly oppose the payment of blood money, especially in a case of self-defense. Let's hope that Nazanin's legal counsel will be able to have the blood money payment waived. In the interim, I hope that bail money can be raised as soon as possible so that Nazanin can be reunited with her family and begin to put these last two horrific years in prison behind her.

"Also, we must not forget that there are at least six other minors on death row in Iran, which violates international human rights law. I hope that this campaign has brought world wide attention to gender discrimination embedded in Sharia Law and has established a milestone for fighting future injustice."

To find out more information about the case of Nazanin Mahabad Fatehi, see www.helpnazanin.com.

To view the documentary, visit www.Bodog.TV

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