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Reyhaneh JABBARI





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Killed her alleged rapist in self-defense
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: July 7, 2007
Date of arrest: Next day
Date of birth: 1988
Victim profile: Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi (former employee of the Iranian Intelligence Ministry)
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Iran
Status: Sentenced to death in 2009
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Reyhaneh Jabbari (Persian:ریحانه جباری c.1988 ) is a woman who was convicted of murdering a former intelligence officer, Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi in Iran. She has been in prison since 2007, and is, as of 2014, awaiting execution by hanging for killing her alleged rapist in self-defense. She published her story and what was gone on her in the solitary cell and prison.

Reyhaneh Jabbari is an Iranian woman born in 1988 and living in Iran. Sometime in 2008, when she was 19 years old, she went to a coffee shop, sat and starting talking on the phone in relation to her job. As an interior decorator, she was discussing her job with someone on the phone and must have been overheard by some people around her talk about her job during that phone conversation. In the end of her phone conversation, two men approached her in relation to decoration and asked if she could decorate their office. One of the men introduced himself as Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi. She agreed to their proposal for the decoration and they took her phone number.

A few days later, Sarbandi's friend believed to be the second man who approached her with Sarbandi at the coffee shop called her on the phone with regard to the decoration and they agreed on the place and the time to pick her up by their car. The time came and they picked her up as agreed. Ahead of the place where the decoration was to be done, they stopped along the way, went to a pharmaceutical shop and came back to the car with a plastic bag. It was later shown that the bag contained one or more condoms.

On getting to the building where it was believed that the decoration was going to be done, we went up to the fourth floor, they opened the door and the whole apartment was so dusty as though no one had lived there for a long time. The contractor, Reyhaneh, immediately got cold feet given the condition of the apartment and in fear left the door unclosed, but Sarbandi ordered her to close the door and that she should take off her scarf. She refused and he approached her romantically, but she resisted that and moved away from his location.

Sarbandi then got angry and came menacingly towards her and said that she could not disobey his wish. Fight then ensued and Reyhaneh managed to lay hands on a knife and stabbed him. He was still coming after her, but she could free herself from him and just about to escape through the door, the second man identified as Sheikhi rushed into the apartment and suddenly engaged in a fight with Sarbandi. The fight between the two men was to pave the way for Reyhaneh's escape. She managed to get home later that night.

Reyhaneh Arrest

The police was able to trace her home that very night and had her arrested at about 2:00 o'clock. Her Trial: She was later taken to court and charged with murder. At her trial, her lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei (Founder UTO) raised the question of self-defence in the incident. They also led evidence to support the fact that she faced imminent threat of rape. In their evidence, it was shown that the plastic bag they brought from their stopover at the pharmacy contained condom and by expert evidence, a drink intended for Reyhaneh had sedative.

Amnesty International, UN, European Union, and the Gatestone Institute have lobbied for her life to be spared.

On September 29, 2014, it was announced that her execution was imminent. On October 1, 2014, it was announced that plans to execute her had been halted for the time being.


Iran postpones execution of woman accused of killing attempted rapist

By Lisa Daftari -

September 29, 2014

where she was to be hanged. But early Tuesday, Shole Pakravan said she had learned the execution had been postponed. That word came after Pakravan and other supporters of Jabbari went to Rajaiy Shahr Prison to protest the pending execution, and after Jabbari's farewell.

“I am currently handcuffed and there is a car waiting outside to take me for the execution of the sentence,” Jabbari told her mother, whose recounting in Farsi was translated by “Goodbye, dear Mum. All of my pains will finish early tomorrow morning. I’m sorry I cannot lessen your pain. Be patient. We believe in life after death. I’ll see you in the next world and I will never leave you again because being separated from you is the most difficult thing to do in the world.”

In April, a court postponed Jabbari’s execution in the face of heavy international outcry, including an international petition with nearly 200,000 signatures. But the grim news that the sentence will soon be carried out came as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, trying to put a moderate face on the regime.

Supporters of Rouhani hoped his election last year would usher in a more tolerant era than the one of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, particularly regarding human rights. But advocacy groups say the number of executions and violations have increased.

“This abhorrent execution must not be allowed to take place, particularly when there are serious doubts about the circumstances of the killing,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa deputy director at Amnesty International. “Instead of continuing to execute people, authorities in Iran should reform their judicial system, which dangerously relies on processes which fail to meet international law and standards for fair trial.”

Jabbari, who worked as a decorator, was convicted of the 2007 fatal stabbing of Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a former employee of the Iranian Intelligence Ministry. Jabbari, who was 19 at the time, has long maintained Sarbandi drugged her and tried to rape her after the two met at a café and she agreed to go to his office to discuss a business deal.

Sarbandi took Jabbari to a rundown building in a remote location, according to her supporters. Once there, he offered her a fruit drink which forensic tests conducted by the police determined contained a date-rape drug, according to human rights advocates.

Jabbari allegedly stabbed Sarbandi in the shoulder with a small pocket knife and fled, while Sarbandi bled to death.

Human rights advocates say the case shows the brutality and intolerance of Iran’s penal system.

“She has been tortured in so many ways in prison. They may have pressured her to confess,” said Shabnam Assadollahi, an Iranian activist based in Canada.

“This is a verdict of "Ghessas" ["an eye for an eye"], but the details of the case don’t make sense,” Assadollhai said.

Jabbari’s family and advocates, including Assadollahi, have pointed to the fact that a small pocket knife and two stabs in the shoulder would not result in fatal consequences for a large man, which is how Sarbandi was described. They say her confession was coerced with torture.

They believe someone else killed Sarbandi and that Jabbari was set up. There is also speculation that there may have been interference in the case and that crucial evidence that would potentially save Jabbari’s life was either tampered with or destroyed.


Rape Victim Will Be Hanged if She Doesn’t Apologize

Commentary by Patrick H. Moore -

April 22, 2014

The word sexist is a dirty word and I would rather be called many other pejorative terms rather than it. Of course, as an American male who flailed through early childhood in the 1950s and came of age in the 1960s and 1970s, there is little doubt that somewhere in my compromised soul I carry a bit of the sexist, not a lot, I trust, but I’m certain there is some there.

Why do I bring this up? Very simple. A story that comes to us out of Iran got me thinking about sexism in general and the fact that like most human foibles, it tends to be relative in nature.

In 2007, Reyhaneh Jabbari, an Iranian interior designer was reportedly lured to the flat of Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, an Iranian intelligence agent, under the guise that he wanted to hire her to help him re-design his apartment.

Maryam Namazie writes:

Reyhaneh Jabbari is now 26 years old and has been in Tehran’s dreaded Evin prison since 2007.

In July 2007 she was alone inside a coffee shop and was speaking on her phone about architecture and design. Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a physician and a former employee of the feared Iranian Intelligence Services, overheard the conversation, approached her and asked for her expertise in order to renovate his office. The afternoon of 7th of July 2007, Morteza made an appointment with Reyhaneh for business purposes.

Reportedly, Morteza stopped his car at a pharmacy on the way to the appointment. It was later discovered he bought condoms. Then they went into the apartment and Morteza closed the door. Morteza approached her and demanded to have sex with her; he had already made some drinks for her. Forensics analysis found that the drink he intended to serve to Rayhaneh contained sleeping aids and sedatives. Reyhaneh did not allow him to rape her, therefore he asked her several times to have sex with him but Reyhaneh resisted. During this time she felt threatened and scared.

Fearing imminent rape, she took a knife out of her bag and stabbed Morteza at the back of his right shoulder. Morteza died due to heavy bleeding.

An interrogator went to the apartment and made a report. At that time Reyhaneh clearly stated to the investigator that she was innocent, that she had met Morteza a week earlier, and that said she killed him only in self defence.

“The evening I was there, I knew that he wanted to rape me, so because of self defence I stabbed him and escaped,” she said.

At Ms. Jabbari’s trial, despite the fact she pleaded self-defense, she was convicted of murdering the intelligence agent and sentenced to death by hanging.

Her date with doom is rapidly approaching and according to her lawyer, the hanging is likely to be carried out within the next few weeks.

As we’ve all heard ad nauseum, every culture is different. Iran happens to have a peculiar law, which is imbued with a peculiar type of compassion, that is probably foreign to most Americans. In Iran’s Islamic-based legal system, the families of victims have the right to grant clemency in capital punishment sentences should they so desire.

In fact, it was reported in the media that just a few days ago in Iran, a young man convicted of murder escaped the hangman’s noose when the victim’s mother intervened, slapping him in the face and declaring forgiveness.

According to the UN, more than 170 people have been executed in Iran since the beginning of 2014 and if Ms. Jabbari does not receive clemency, she will become just another number added to the already long and grisly list.

In Ms. Jabbari’s case, Agent Sarbandi’s son Jalal has stated that he is offering her the option of avoiding the gallows but only under certain circumstances that if followed, would exonerate his father of the sexual assault/rape charges. Here is what Jalal demands in return for clemency:

“Only when her true intentions are exposed and she tells the truth about her accomplice and what really went down will we be prepared to grant mercy.”

Jalal insists that Ms. Jabbari, who is now 26 years of age, conceded at some point in the proceedings that a third party, a man, was present in the apartment where his father was stabbed to death, “but she refuses to reveal his identity”.

Thus, it appears that Jalal may be insisting that Ms. Jabbari must confess that she and her accomplice went to Agent Sarbandi’s flat with the intention of attacking and killing him, if she wants to avoid the gallows.

Demian McElroy of The Telegraph writes:

Jabbari’s case has triggered domestic and international condemnation.

Iranian actors and other prominent figures have launched an appeal against her execution.

The United Nations and several international rights groups say Jabbari’s confession was obtained under intense pressure and threats from Iranian prosecutors.

According to Ahmed Shaheed, the UN’s human rights Iranian watchdog, Ms. Jabbari’s trial was deeply flawed and he believes that she acted in self-defense.

“The Iranian authorities should review her case and refer it back to court for a re-trial, ensuring the defendant’s right to due process which is guaranteed under both Iranian law and international law,” said Shaheed.

Shaheed quoted “reliable sources” as saying that the victim, Sarbandi, had offered to hire Jabbari to redesign his office, but then took her to an apartment where he sexually abused her, which apparently led to her stabbing him which resulted in his death.

Jalal Sarbandi, however, is having none of it. He insists that his father’s “murder” was premeditated, and insists that Jabbari confessed to having bought a knife two days earlier.

Jalal also claims that Ms. Jabbari “sent a text message to her boyfriend saying she would kill him (Agent Sarbandi)”.

Shaheed has stated that Jabbari only stabbed Sarbandi in the shoulder and had called for an ambulance before fleeing the scene.


As most alert readers will have noted, there are troubling holes in this story. First and foremost, what happens if Ms. Jabbari goes along with Jalal’s program and confesses to having planned to murder Agent Sarbandi with the help of an accomplice? If she does confess, won’t she then be condemning herself to life in prison (she has already been incarcerated since 2007)?

Or will she once again be a “free” woman based on clemency being granted by Jalal? These are questions I would like to see answered.

And, of course, if Ms. Jabbari refuses to change her story, and if international and local pressure does not result in a re-trial, she will apparently be hanged within a few weeks. Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place.

In the case of Jalal, this appears to be about family honor plain and simple. He wants his father exonerated of the rape accusation. The son must have at least an iota of conscience or he would not have offered to commute the death sentence in the event Ms. Jabbari changes her story.


So although I confess to carrying some taint of the sexist, however slight, I think I can accurately say that although it is clearly a character flaw, it does not begin to compare to the level and degree of sexism that poor Ms. Jabbari, and presumably other Iranian women, face on a daily basis. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, and if anyone has more knowledge of this case, I would appreciate them checking in and enlightening us.



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