Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Behnam Zare'


Age: 18
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Single


Date of Killing: August 26, 2008
Location of Killing: Central Prison (Adelabad), Shiraz, Fars Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Murder
Age at time of alleged offense: 15

About this Case

The information about Mr. Behnam Zare’ has been gathered from the weblog of his attorney, Mohammad Mostafa’i (Aug. 26, 2008), the websites of Human Rights Activists in Iran, including Mr. Zare’s recorded voice (Aug. 26, 2008), the E’temad Melli newspaper (Feb. 5, May 30 2008; Aug. 31 & Sep. 1, 2007), the E’temad newspaper (Aug. 27, 2008), Iranian Student News Agency (Feb. 5 & Aug. 29, 2008), and Amnesty International (Sep. 6, 2007).

Mr. Behnam Zare’ was born in Dastjerd village near Estahban (Fars province). His father was a farmer who also worked as a shepherd to make a living. At the time of his arrest, Mr. Zare had finished the first year of high school (E’temad Melli Aug. 31, 2007).

On April 21, 2005, a fight broke out between Mr. Zare’, 15 and an 18 year old individual named, Mehrdad, concerning Mr. Zare’s doves. Mehrdad had a knife Mr. Zare’ had an ax. Mehrdad was injured during the fight and later died in hospital (Amnesty International).

Arrest and detention

The exact date of the arrest is not known. Mr. Zare’ told the E’temad Melli newspaper (May 30, 2008) “I was afraid and I ran away [from the scene] and went to my father and told him what had happened. He took me to the police.” Mr. Zare’ was in Adelabad (Shiraz) prison. He knitted there and dreamed of “leaving the prison, going back to his community, and continuing his education” (E’temad Melli Aug. 31, 2007).


There is no information regarding this trial other than it took place at Branch 5 of the Criminal Court of Fars Province.


Mr. Zare’ was charged with “murder.”

The validity of the criminal charges brought against this defendant cannot be ascertained in the absence of the basic guarantees of a fair trial.

Evidence of guilt

No information is available concerning the evidence presented against the accused.


No information is available concerning Mr. Zare’s defense during the trial. In August 2007, he told the E’temad Melli newspaper: “I had a state-assigned lawyer who took my fingerprints and left; I never saw him again” (Aug. 31, 2007). Eventually, Mohammad Mostafai accepted to be his defense attorney.

Mr. Zare’ denied the charged of “premeditated murder” (E’temad). He regretted his action and said that it happened by accident (Human Rights Activists in Iran). He said that prior to the incident, Mehrdad had asked him to commit an “illicit act” (ibid, Mr. Mostafa’i’s weblog). “Mehrdad beat me many times at school. He wanted to hurt [or molest] me… He followed me and never left me alone. He was three years older than me and I couldn’t fight him. I only had to run away from him (E’temad Melli Feb. 5, 2008). Mr. Zare’ believed “if he had not hit Mehrdad with the ax, [Mehrdad] would have killed him [with his knife]” (E’temad MelliAug. 31, 2007). He said: “I was very quiet in our neighborhood. Nobody could believe that I committed this act. I still can’t believe I have killed someone. I hope to see the family [of the victim] and ask them to pardon me” (Mr. Mostafa’i’s weblog).

A Summary of the Legal Defects in Mr. Behnam Zare’s Case

Based on Mr. Behnam Zare’s statements throughout the entire proceedings as well as his attorney’s defense, he hit the victim in the neck with a hatchet during a fight and caused his death. The defendant admitted to having hit the victim with a hatchet but stated that it was an accident. He stated that he intended to hit the victim’s hand and that the victim had suddenly tilted his neck such that the hatched landed there instead. Further, the defendant was 15 years old at the time. Citing Islamic Penal Code Article 206(2), the judges sentenced him to Qesas. Pursuant to this Article, in cases where the murderer commits an intentional act that is “typically lethal,” the murder will be considered intentional and punishable by Qesas even if he did not intend to kill. It can therefore be said that by relying on Article 206(2), the judges determined that there was lack of intent to commit murder, and that they believed that Behnam Zare did not intend to kill the victim but that his act was “typically lethal.” If we consider the verbiage used in this Article, we realize that the law considers the intent to commit the “typically lethal” act as a necessary prerequisite, which is to say the murderer must have the intent to carry out the “typically lethal” act. In this case, even though Mr. Zare has used a lethal weapon and the blow landed on the victim’s neck, the criminal act itself was nonetheless not intentional. Here, the criminal act that caused death was the blow to the neck, though the defendant insisted that he did not intend to hit the victim there. It was necessary for the judges to study the case more carefully and determine whether the defendant intentionally hit the victim in the neck or whether the blow to the neck was accidental. It seems that no specific investigation was conducted in this regard. 


Branch 5 of Criminal Court of Fars Province condemned Mr. Behnam Zare’ to death on November 13, 2005. Branch 33 of the Supreme Court confirmed this ruling on May 14, 2006. It is only in August 2007, that Mr. Zare’ was told that he would be executed: “I just found out that I would be executed. We don’t know much about courts. My family didn’t tell me anything…” (E’temad Melli Aug. 31, 2007).

Mr. Zare' told the group Human Rights Activists in Iran a few days before his execution, Mr. Zare’ said: “You the defenders of human rights, you the free people, save me… I want to live. I want to be free. I’m living the last days of my life. They may take me to the gallows any moment.” On August 26, 2008, Mr. Behnam Zare’ was hanged in Adelabad prison of Shiraz. The authorities had not informed his family and attorney prior to the execution.

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