Tehran ex-mayor who killed wife free on bail: Lawyer

AFP , Wednesday 28 Aug 2019

Tehran ex-mayor
File photo: Former Tehran mayor Mohammad Ali Najafi (2nd-R), accused of shooting his second wife, speaks with his lawyer ahead of his trial at Iran's criminal court on July 13, 2019. (AFP)

A former mayor of Tehran who murdered his wife has been released on bail, his lawyer said Wednesday, two weeks after her family spared him from the death sentence.

Mohammad Ali Najafi, 67, was sentenced to death last month after being convicted of shooting dead his second wife Mitra Ostad at their home in the Iranian capital on May 28.

Ostad's family had originally appealed for "qesas" -- the Islamic law of retribution -- to be applied, which would have seen the death penalty served.

But her family decided to grant him a reprieve on August 14.

"Najafi, who was in prison for killing his wife, was freed on bail" of $92,400 (83,300 euros), his lawyer Hamid Reza Gudarzi said, quoted by state news agency IRNA.

Gudarzi said his client was allowed bail because the qesas sentence had not been applied, and a brother of the victim has said the family did not want "blood money".

"The warrant for temporary detention has been changed to bail and he was freed from prison," the lawyer added, although he still faces trial of premeditated murder that could carry a three-10 year jail term.

The former mayor's trial received detailed coverage in state media where scandals related to politicians rarely appear on television.

A mathematician, professor and veteran politician, Najafi had previously served as President Hassan Rouhani's economic adviser and education minister.

He was elected Tehran mayor in August 2017, but resigned the following April after facing criticism from conservatives.

Najafi married Ostad without divorcing his first wife, unusual in Iran where polygamy is legal but socially frowned upon.

Some of Iran's ultra-conservatives said the case showed the "moral bankruptcy" of reformists, while reformists accused the conservative-dominated state television of bias in its coverage and highlighting the case for political ends.

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