'Iran to execute 18-yr-old for sodomy'

Report says victim retracted accusations, but sentence stands.

Mohammed Mostafaei 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Mohammed Mostafaei 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Eighteen-year-old Ebrahim Hamidi is facing execution in Iran on charges of homosexuality, even though he has no lawyer and is not gay, the Guardian reported Monday. Hamidi was sentenced to death for sodomy based on "judge's knowledge," whereby a judge can use his discretion to decide on a case in which no conclusive evidence exists.
Hamidi allegedly confessed to the crime under torture. Last month, the purported victim of the crime admitted he had been coerced into making false accusations by his parents. Three alleged accomplices of Hamidi were aquitted after they agreed to testify against Hamidi in court, the Guardian said.
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Hamidi's lawyer Mohammed Mostafaei, credited with saving 50 people from execution over the course of his career, was forced to flee the country after he sparked international controversy over another client, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who was sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, according to the Guardian.
Homosexuality can be punished by lashing, hanging, or stoning in Iran, depending on the seriousness of the offense. A rape victim can be lashed as well if he "enjoyed" the experience.
Attorney Mohammed Mostafaei fled to Turkey, where he was arrested briefly before being freed by EU officials, the Guardian said. He plans to continue his work from exile to Norway, where he has obtained a visa. Mostafaei's wife was recently arrested after Mostafaei refused to report to Evin prison for questioning, but was later released, according to the Guardian.
The lawyer said he considered turning himself in to help his wife, but ultimately decided against it because "my wife would never forgive me."
Mostafaei said a friend drove him last week from Tehran to Khoy, in northwestern Iran, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from the Turkish border. From there he made his way, by foot and on horseback, into Turkey, he said.
"My greatest hope is that I can go back and continue my work in Iran. If the Iranian authorities will ensure my rights and safety, I'll go back," Mostafaei said through an interpreter. "Right now, I've lost the ability to work on the behalf of my clients. That means I've lost everything. Without that, it doesn't matter whether I'm in heaven or hell."