[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Iran on Saturday affirmed [report] the death sentence of 42-year-old Iranian oil billionare Babak Zanjani, according the country’s state-run news agency [official website]. Zanjani was arrested in December 2013 on charges of embezzlement, money laundering and fraud, and sentenced [JURIST report] in March of this year. Zanjani was charged with owing the government USD $2.7 billion for oil sales on behalf of the Ministry of Petroleum. This decision has been criticized [Reuters report] by some who believe executing Zanjani will make it difficult, if not impossible, to recover the funds owed and discover the officials who were complicit in his corruption. In addition to Zanjani, two others were implicated in the scheme, though their death sentences were revoked.
Much international pressure has been directed toward Iran in recent years for its use of the death penalty. In January Amnesty International (AI) released a report [JURIST report] on the many juvenile offenders on death row in Iran. The report states that 73 executions of juvenile offenders took place between 2005 and 2015 and that 160 juvenile offenders are currently on death row. Iran executed [JURIST report] Saman Naseem, a juvenile offender who was 17 years-old when sentenced to death in February of last year; he was charged in July 2011 with “enmity against God” and “corruption on earth.” The UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran Ahmed Shaheed urged [JURIST report] Iran in April 2014 to immediately halt the execution of Reyhaneh Jabbari. Jabbari was executed [JURIST report] the following October despite international opposition. In June 2014, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay condemned [JURIST report] Iran’s use of the death penalty for juvenile offenders and called on authorities to halt the announced execution of Razieh Ebrahimi, who was 14 years old when sentenced to death.