Amnesty appeals for life of Kurd student in Iran

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Amnesty International has appealed to Iran to commute the death sentence of a Kurdish law student who it said is set to be executed on Sunday.

"We are urgently appealing to the Iranian authorities to show clemency, halt the imminent execution of Habibolah Latifi, and commute his death sentence," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa director.

Iranian Kurdish activist Latifi was sentenced to death in 2008, and the ruling was upheld on appeal in February 2009, for taking part in armed acts in the western province of Kordestan, according to his lawyer Saleh Nikbakht.

He was found "guilty of waging war against God (moharebeh) for cooperating with PJAK," the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan, a banned Iranian-Kurdish rebel group.

Latifi was detained in November 2007 and charged with taking part in an assault on the car of the prosecutor in Sanandaj, the capital of Kordestan, and attacking a police station the same year.

According to the lawyer, Latifi admitted being a PJAK supporter but denied committing acts of violence. The student told the court he was not in Sanandaj when the attacks took place.

The London-based Amnesty said the lawyer has been informed by Iranian authorities that Latifi's execution will take place on 26 December at Sanandaj prison in Kordestan.

"While we recognise that governments have a responsibility to bring to justice those who commit crimes, this must be done according to international standards for fair trial," Smart said.

"It is clear that Habibolah Latifi did not receive a fair trial by international standards, which makes the news of his impending execution all the more abhorrent."

Hundreds of militants from the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged a bloody campaign for self-rule in southeast Turkey, and its sister group in Iran, PJAK, are based in the mountains of northern Iraq.

© 2010 AFP

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