Iranian plans to blind attacker with acid on insistence of victim

May 13, 2011

Iranian judicial authorities plan to blind a man Saturday, after he was convicted of throwing a bucket of sulfuric acid in the face of a young woman who had refused to marry him.

International human rights organizations and the British government have asked Ameneh Bahrami, 34, to pardon Majid Movahedi, who has been in jail since his 2004 crime. But Bahrami, who was disfigured and blinded as a result of the attack, says she does not intend to do so. Instead, she hopes the punishment will be a warning to any man ever contemplating such an act.

In 2008, an Iranian court ordered that five drops of the same chemical be placed in each of the attacker’s eyes, acceding to the victim’s demand that he be punished according to a principle in Islamic jurisprudence that allows a victim to seek retribution for a crime. Only the victim can prevent the execution of the sentence by pardoning the convicted.

“I have been receiving numerous phone calls from Iranian human rights organizations based abroad,” Bahrami said in a phone interview Friday. “They are pressuring me to pardon him. But I won’t do that.”

Bahrami wrote a book on her experience, “Eye for an Eye,” which was published in Germany. In the years since the attack, she has traveled between Iran and Spain, where doctors have tried unsuccessfully to restore her vision. Blind and alone in Barcelona, she spent periods of time living on the streets, until she received assistance from the Spanish government.

She has been the driving force behind the implementation of the punishment, pressing Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, the former head of Iran’s judiciary, to carry out the sentence. He had proposed that the attacker’s family pay her compensation instead.

“He explained that such a sentence [the blinding] would cause lots of bad publicity for Iran. But I refused,” she said in an interview with The Washington Post in 2008.

“I don’t want any woman to have to go through what I experienced,” she said.

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