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Monday 11 October 2021

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Arman Abdolali (right) was first sentenced to death in December 2015 after being convicted of murdering his girlfriend, who disappeared in 2014.

Amnesty International is urging Iran to stop the execution planned for later this week of a man arrested at aged 17 and sentenced to death following a "grossly unfair" trial.

Arman Abdolali had been moved to solitary confinement in a prison in Karaj, west of Tehran, in preparation for his execution on October 13, the London-based human rights group said in a statement on October 11.

Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, called on the authorities to "immediately halt all plans" to execute Abdolali, saying the use of the death penalty against people who were under 18 at the time the crime was committed is prohibited under international law and constitutes an "abhorrent assault on child rights."

Abdolali was sentenced to death for murdering his girlfriend in January 2020 and in July 2021, but his execution was stopped both times after an international outcry, according to Amnesty International.

"Global action helped to stop Arman Abdolali's previously scheduled executions. We now urge the international community, including the UN and EU, to urgently intervene to save his life," Eltahawy said.

Abdolali's girlfriend disappeared in 2014, and her body has never been found.

He was first sentenced to death in December 2015 after being convicted of murder in "a grossly unfair trial" by a court that "relied on torture-tainted 'confessions,'" Amnesty International said.

The Supreme Court granted him a retrial in a case that largely focused on whether there were doubts about his "maturity" at the time of the crime.

At the retrial, the court ruled that his criminal responsibility stood in the absence of any evidence to determine his maturity so many years after the crime.

"Given these deeply flawed proceedings, Amnesty International is also calling on the Iranian authorities to quash Arman Abdolali's conviction and grant him a retrial in line with fair trial standards generally and those pertaining to children in particular," the group said.

People walk past an election poster with a portrait of Andrei Pivovarov with the words "Freedom is stronger than fear!" in Moscow on September 7.

The jailed former executive director of the pro-democracy Open Russia movement, Andrei Pivovarov, has been charged with heading an "undesirable" organization, an accusation that stems from a six-year-old law that has repeatedly been used to target critical voices.

Pivovarov's team said on Telegram on October 11 that the charge stemmed from 30 posts on his Facebook account and one repost.

In some of the posts in question, Pivovarov allegedly spoke negatively about employees of the Federal Security Service (FSB), criticized police actions, and supported protesters.

If convicted, he faces up to six years in prison, according to his team.

Pivovarov, who has denied any wrongdoing, was detained after being removed from a Warsaw-bound plane just before takeoff from St. Petersburg in May.

He is being held in pretrial detention.

Leaders of the Russian-based Open Russia dissolved the group in late May after authorities designated it an "undesirable" organization.

They said they did so to protect supporters from further "harassment" by the Russian authorities.

Open Russia was financed by Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who moved to London after spending 10 years in prison in Russia on charges widely seen as political revenge for challenging President Vladimir Putin politically.

The "undesirable organization" law, adopted in 2015, was part of a series of regulations pushed by the Kremlin that squeezed many nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations that received funding from foreign sources -- mainly from Europe and the United States.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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