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Iranian Child Bride Faces Death Penalty

Zeinab Sekaanvand was convicted of killing her first husband, who she says was abusive. (file photo)

Human rights activists say an Iranian former child bride, whose execution was delayed while she was pregnant, could be executed in the coming days.

Zeinab Sekaanvand, a 22-year-old Iranian-Kurdish woman, was convicted of killing her husband, who she says beat her for months.

She was arrested when she was 17 years old and convicted of the murder of her husband, in a trial described as grossly unfair by rights activists.

In a statement on October 11, Amnesty International called the case "extremely disturbing" and said Sekaanvand was due to be executed by hanging as soon as October 13.

Sekaanvand had recently given birth to a stillborn baby in prison.

"Not only was Zeinab Sekaanvand under 18 years of age at the time of the crime, she was also denied access to a lawyer and says she was tortured after her arrest by male police officers through beatings all over her body,” said Philip Luther, research and advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, on October 11.

"Iran’s continued use of the death penalty against juvenile offenders displays the authorities' contempt even for commitments they themselves have signed up to," Luther added. "The Iranian authorities must immediately quash Zeinab Sekaanvand’s conviction and grant her a fair retrial without recourse to the death penalty, and in accordance with principles of juvenile justice."

London-based Amnesty International said Sekaanvand was aged 15 when she married her first husband, Hossein Sarmadi. While in prison, she remarried.

Last year, a similar case attracted condemnation from rights groups when Iranian authorities executed Fatemeh Salbehi, who was convicted of suffocating her husband after drugging him when she was only 17. Salbehi said her husband had abused her.

In the past decade, Iran has executed at least 73 juvenile offenders, according to a report released by Amnesty International in January.

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