- David Gritten
- BBC News
A court in Iran has sentenced a man who beheaded his 17-year-old wife to eight years in prison.
Pictures of the murderer, named Sajjad Heidari, carrying the head of his wife, Mona, after he cut it off in Ahwaz, after he accused her of what was called an “honor killing” last year, caused widespread anger in Iran.
Iran’s judiciary spokesman, Masoud Staishi, said the leniency in the ruling was because Mona’s father “pardoned” him for the murder rather than seeking retribution.
The victim’s father said, earlier, that he did not give consent to the killing and retribution of his daughter’s killer.
Mona has been married to Sajjad since she was twelve years old and gave birth to their son when she was only 14 years old.
Local media reported that she fled to Turkey after being subjected to domestic violence at the hands of her husband, who refused her demand for divorce.
Mona had returned to Iran a few days before her death in February because she had received assurances from her family that she would be safe.
Staci told reporters on Wednesday that Sajjad Heydari had been sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for premeditated murder and another eight months for assault.
The judiciary spokesman explained that the ruling is in line with Iranian law, which punishes premeditated murder with death unless the victim’s family pardons the killer.
He said her husband’s brother was sentenced to 45 months in prison for complicity in the murder.
The gruesome killing incident sparked new demands in Iran for a law aimed at preventing domestic violence and protecting victims.
There have also been calls to raise the minimum age for marriage for children. It is currently set at 13 for girls, although girls younger than that can legally marry with judicial and parental consent.
In 2020, there was similar outrage after 14-year-old Romina Ashrafi was beheaded by her father after she allegedly ran away from home with her boyfriend. The father, who consulted a lawyer to see what punishment he could face for the crime before killing her, was sentenced to nine years in prison – less than the maximum allowed under the law.
Subsequently, the government approved a bill criminalizing various forms of violence against women. However, it has yet to be passed by parliament, and an independent UN expert said it fell short.
Iran is currently gripped by anti-government protests, sparked by the death in September of a girl who was detained by the morality police in September for allegedly wearing a headscarf “indecently”.
Four people have so far been executed in connection with the protests, while 18 others have been sentenced to death. Human rights groups said they were convicted after unfair show trials.