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Disabled Iranian faces execution

December 15, 2004

Iran plans to execute a mentally disabled 19-year-old woman for "acts contrary to chastity," alleged crimes stemming from her having been forced into prostitution as a child, Amnesty International says.

Amnesty cited reports in the Iranian newspaper Khorasan that said social workers estimated the woman, identified only as Leyla M, had the mental capacity of an eight-year-old.

Amnesty said a November 28 story in the newspaper reported that Leyla had been sentenced to death by a court in the central Iranian city of Arak when she was 18.

Amnesty said the sentence had been passed to Iran's Supreme Court for confirmation.

The group said Leyla had been convicted of "acts contrary to chastity," including controlling a brothel, having sex with relatives and giving birth outside marriage.

It said she had confessed to the charges and was to be flogged before her execution. The group said Khorasan had reported Leyla had exhausted her appeals.

Amnesty said Leyla's mother had forced her into prostitution when she was eight. It said the girl was raped repeatedly and gave birth to a baby when she was nine. She was sentenced to flogging at the time.

Her family sold her to an Afghan man when she was 12, and his mother forced the girl to continue as a prostitute, Amnesty said.

She gave birth to twins at age 14 and was again punished by flogging, the group said. Her family later sold her again, to a 55-year-old man, Amnesty said.

Amnesty said that as a party to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, Iran had promised not to execute anyone for crimes committed while they were under 18.

The group said Iran had executed at least three child offenders in 2004.

In addition, it said, a 14-year-old boy died on November 12 after being flogged for eating in public during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. - Associated Press

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