Iran postpones blinding man in retribution punishment

TEHRAN Sat May 14, 2011 2:07pm EDT

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TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran has postponed blinding a convicted man in retribution for throwing acid in the face of a woman in 2004, the semi-official Fars news agency reported on Saturday.

A court sentenced Majid Mohavedi in 2008 to be blinded in both eyes for taking away the sight of Ameneh Bahrami by pouring acid in her face after she spurned his offers of marriage.

Under Iran's Islamic law, imposed since the 1979 Islamic revolution, qesas (retribution) is permitted in cases where bodily injuries are inflicted.

"The punishment of Majid was scheduled to be carried out on Saturday at a hospital but it has been postponed," Fars quoted an unnamed official as saying, without giving details.

In 2004, Mohavedi threw acid at Bahrami's face, blinding the then 24-year-old electronics graduate in both eyes for refusing to marry him, despite several approaches from his family, who are also considered complicit in the attack.

Bahrami, whose hands, neck and face were also disfigured in the attack, said she did not want to take revenge, but wanted to "prevent it from happening to someone else."

Mohavedi turned himself to the police and confessed in 2005.

Bahrami and her lawyer were not aware that the punishment had been postponed, the students news agency ISNA reported. "I haven't got any official news on the postponement of the verdict," ISNA quoted her lawyer Ali Sarrafi as saying.

"The verdict has been issued by the court and it is legally enforceable unless it is postponed due to legal reasons."

Judiciary officials were not available for comment.

Amnesty International has urged Iran not to carry out the sentence, saying: "the Iranian authorities have a responsibility under international law to ensure it does not go ahead."

"Regardless of how horrific the crime suffered by Ameneh Bahrami, being blinded with acid is a cruel and inhuman punishment amounting to torture," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director for Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Program.

(Writing by Mitra Amiri, Editing by Diana Abdallah)

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