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Honor-Killing Victim's Mother Says Islamic Punishment Of Father Not Adequate

Romina Ashrafi, Victim of honor killing in Iran, Talesh

Ebrahim Nikdel-Moqadam, the lawyer representing the mother of a 13-year-old girl beheaded by her father, says the sentence that the criminal received on the basis of the Islamic Penal Code is not proportional to the "extremely violent crime" that he committed.

In May, Reza Ashrafi used a sickle to cut off his daughter Romina's head while she was asleep in a northern Iranian town in Gilan Province. A court in Gilan sentenced him last week to nine years in prison and payment of "blood money" to Romina's mother.

Before her tragic death, Romina fell in love with a man in her hometown, and after her father vehemently opposed their marriage, the couple eloped. The two were detained after their families filed complaints with the police, and a court handed Romina over to her father despite her pleas not to send her home, in which she warned that her father was a temperamental person and her life was in danger.

Speaking to Sharq newspaper, Nikdel-Moqadam said Romina's father had investigated the punishment before committing the crime, and was aware that, based on the Islamic Penal Code, the maximum sentence for killing one's child is no more than ten years in prison. Nikdel-Moqadam attributed Reza's crime to the light sentence and his relatives' demands to save the honor of his family, and argued that the court should have imposed "an additional" sentence on him due to the murder's brutal nature.

The court sentenced Reza to one year short of the ten-year maximum sentence stated in the Islamic Penal Code, on which Iranian judges must base their verdicts.

According to the same law, a murder victim's parents – or relatives of the victim in the absence of the parents -- have a right to demand a death sentence for the murder, as well as payment of "blood money" by the murderer. They also have the right to completely forgive the murderer and forego the blood money. In murder cases, the judge has the power to hand out additional sentences "on behalf of the society" if the crime is particularly violent or harms society in some way.

The family of the victim has no control over additional sentences decided by the judge, however, and Romina's mother is unable to ask for the maximum penalty for murder because fathers and paternal grandfathers cannot be sentenced to death for the killing of a child or grandchild.