The scheduled execution of Kurdish student Habibolah Latifi on Sunday was postponed [press release, in Persian] by the Iranian government in order to investigate irregularities in the case, his defense lawyer Nemat Amadhi told ISNA news agency [official website]. Latifi, a law student, was arrested in 2007 and sentenced to death by hanging for his role in an attack on a police station and an attempted assassination of a prosecutor on behalf of the Kurdish Independent Life Party (PJAK) [official website]. Latifi was charged with the national security-related charge of mohareb, translated as being "enemies of God." On Friday, Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy websites] called on Iran to halt the execution and release [press releases] Latifi. In its statement, HRW called Latifi’s conviction unfair and criticized the charges against him:
Latifi is one of at least 16 Kurds facing execution on various national security-related charges including moharebeh. Human Rights Watch has documented numerous cases where Iranian security forces have used physical and psychological coercion including torture to secure confessions in security-related cases, and courts have convicted defendants of moharebeh in trials where prosecutors failed to provide any convincing evidence establishing the defendant's guilt.The Iranian government has not officially commented on the status of Latifi’s execution.
The World Coalition Against the Death Penalty in October marked the 8th World Day against the Death Penalty [advocacy websites], specifically urging the US, Iran and China to end the death penalty [JURIST report]. Despite the continued use of the death penalty in some countries, there is a growing movement toward international abolition. Earlier this year AI reported [JURIST report] the number of countries using the death penalty dropped [report, PDF] in 2009. According to the report, more than 700 people were executed last year in 18 countries, with the most executions carried out in Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the US. More than two-thirds of the world's countries have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice.