update deskJewish Diaspora

Iranian Jew at ‘imminent risk’ of execution after appeal rejected

The Islamic Republic executed 853 people in 2023.

Arvin Nathaniel Ghahremani. Source: Avi Kaner/X.
Arvin Nathaniel Ghahremani. Source: Avi Kaner/X.

A Jewish man on death row in an Iranian prison for killing a man in a brawl two years ago in self-defense is at “imminent risk of execution” after Iran’s Supreme Court rejected his appeal.

Arvin Nathaniel Ghahremani, 20, was sentenced to death under the Islamic Republic’s penal code for “retributive justice.” He was expected to be executed last week for allegedly killing a man named as Amir Shokri when attacked with a knife two years ago, the opposition-linked Iran International news website said.

However, he received a last minute stay of execution last week.

Ghahremani’s family says that “key errors in the case were intentionally ignored” and his actions to save the victim were not taken into account, the Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights (IHR) noted on Friday.

The man’s relatives also say that Ghahremani was not adequately represented by his defense lawyer.

In November 2022, seven men, including Amir Shokri, a non-Jewish man who owed money to Gharemani, then 18, ambushed him at a gym. According to accounts, Shokri pulled a knife on Ghahremani and the resulting altercation resulted in Shokri’s death.

The Iranian judicial system prioritizes Muslims over Jews.

Behind the scenes efforts by members of the Iranian-Jewish community in the United States to persuade the victim’s family to accept compensation have been unsuccessful. Prayer services have been held on Ghahremani’s behalf at the request of the family.

Before the Islamic Revolution of 1979, an estimated 80,000 Jews lived in Iran. By 2016, according to an Iranian census, that number had fallen to below 10,000.

Iran, which is listed by the U.S. State Department as the biggest sponsor of international terrorism, has sworn to destroy Israel and supports terrorist groups, including Hezbollah and Hamas, with funding and weapons.

The Islamic Republic executed 853 people in 2023—the most since 2015, the London-based Amnesty International said last month.

The Iranian authorities have “persisted with their state-sanctioned killing spree which has turned prisons into killing fields,” Amnesty said.

The case has not garnered major international news exposure.

 “We are deeply concerned by reports that authorities in Iran plan to proceed with the execution of Arvin Ghahramani,” Deborah Lipstadt, the U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, wrote last week. “We note with concern that Iranian authorities often subject Jewish citizens to different standards when it comes to determining judgments in cases of this nature.

“We once again urge the Iranian authorities to respect all fair trial guarantees and ensure fair application of the law,” Lipstadt said.

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