Iran director screens film to save man on death row

AFP, Tuesday 1 Apr 2014

An Iranian film director is to hold a private screening of his latest movie on Saturday to raise funds to save the life of a 26-year-old on death row.

Mostafa Kiaei, director of "Special Line", said he had learnt by accident of the young man's case and wanted to help raise the "blood money" to be paid to the family of a murder victim.

"I didn't know the convict before and I learned about the case through a contact in the judiciary," Kiaei told AFP.

According to Mehr news agency, the unnamed convict and two of his friends were involved in a street fight which led to the murder, but he did not kill the victim.

The case became more complicated after his accomplices died in a car accident, leaving him the only person accountable for paying the blood money.

The convict has been in jail for the past seven years.

Under the country's interpretation of Islamic sharia laws in force since its 1979 revolution, murder is punishable by death.

However, the victim's family has the right to spare a convict from the hangman's noose in return for blood money.

"The blood money (in this case) amounts to three billion rials ($100,000) and so far we have collected one third of it," Kiaei said.

Kiaei said he has invited scores of VIPs to the fundraising event in Tehran, including artists and athletes.

"Since this is a case of a precious human life, it requires our outmost efforts. Whatever we do is valuable as this spreads positive energy to society and helps a family see their child again," he said.

"Considering that he is not guilty, the judiciary has a positive view on his case and is willing to pardon him," he said. "The fewer executions, the better."

UN chief Ban Ki-moon in March voiced alarm over the high number of hangings in Iran, saying at least 500 people had been executed last year, including 57 in public.

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