An Iranian man who beheaded his 17-year-old wife in February 2022 was sentenced to just eight years and two months in prison on Wednesday, according to the country’s semi-official website Khabar Online, drawing criticism over the leniency of the prison sentence.
Following the teenager’s murder, a video began circulating online of her husband, Sajjad Heydari, walking through the provincial capital of Ahvaz while smiling and carrying his severed head, IRNA reported.
Local authorities have confirmed that widely shared images claiming to be Heydari are from the same incident, a source with knowledge of the statements told CNN. The video, seen by CNN, showed Heydari holding a knife in one hand and the girl’s head in the other.
The short sentence was condemned by critics, with some pointing the finger at filmmaker Mozghan Ilanlo, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for removing her headscarf.
In response to a question about the sentence, Iranian judiciary spokesman Massoud Setayesh said the husband had been “convicted of stewardship in intentional murder, intentional assault and public disorder. . A second defendant”, who is the victim’s brother-in-law, “was found guilty of having participated in an intentional murder”.
The judiciary spokesman said the death sentence was not imposed because the victim’s family had pardoned the accused. They “announced their pardon and since this part of the prosecution, as far as the private aspect of this matter is concerned, is qualified, it resulted in the issuance of the suspension order, but the public aspect of the crime remains,” he said.
“Accordingly, in terms of the public aspect of the crime, the accused in the first place, in terms of the management of the intentional murder, was sentenced to seven and a half years imprisonment and in terms of the public aspect of the crime , to eight months in prison, ”added the spokesperson for justice.
The spokesperson also said that “the second-ranked defendant (the victim’s brother-in-law) was also sentenced to 45 months in prison for assisting in an intentional murder.”
When the story was first published, the official news agency of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRNA) called the alleged murder a so-called “honor killing”.
The victim had fled to Turkey four months before being persuaded to return to Iran by her father, according to an interview with the girl’s mother-in-law, published on Fars in 2022.
The girl was 12 when she married Heydari, according to IRNA.
In an interview with the girl’s father, published in Fars in 2022, he is quoted as saying that he had obtained a legal certificate allowing his daughter to marry. The minimum age of marriage in Iran is 13 for girls and 15 for boys. CNN was unable to confirm her husband’s age.
The crime comes years after another high-profile ‘honour killing’, in which a 14-year-old girl was allegedly killed by her father with a sickle after running away from her family home in Talesh County, South northern Iran, with a 29-year-old man.
For years, Iranian women’s rights activists have campaigned to strengthen domestic violence laws in the country.
It comes after the country was rocked by nationwide protests over the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a young woman accused of flouting the country’s compulsory hijab laws. Iran has cracked down by executing protesters accused of killing security forces, which critics say was the result of hasty sham trials.