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Iranian 'enmity against God' student's execution halted by prison Governor

By anita nair

Tehran, Dec 27 (ANI): Iran has reportedly delayed the execution of Habibollah Latifi, a Kurdish student who was convicted of Muharebeh (enmity against God), as hundreds of protesters arrived outside Sanandaj prison in Iran to stage demonstrations against the decision.

Iranian authorities accused him of being a member of the armed opposition group, the Kurdish Independent Life party (PJAK). However, his family denies his connection with PJAK and claims the charges were fabricated.

Latifi, a member of the Kurd minority in Iran and a politically active civil engineering student at Azad University, was to be executed today.

Intelligence reports from human rights groups and activists in Iran said that they contacted Amnesty International this morning and around 300 people arrived at the gates of Sanandaj Prison, Kordestan, in western Iran where the 29-year-old convict is facing the death sentence.

The Guardian quoted Amnesty International researchers as saying that they came to know that the prison Governor halted the execution, which usually takes place at daybreak, out of respect for the Islamic lunar month Moharram, the paper said.

"It's played out slightly differently than what has happened before. There is a reprieve but we are not sure for how long. The Kurdish community has been very plugged in on this one. I heard they had not gone ahead at 6.30am this morning. There were reports of some 300 people outside the prison itself," Drewery Dyke of Amnesty International said. It looks like we have been successful - and indeed it seems that way. One needs to be cautious in these things. We are certainly not calling on our members and supporters to stop making appeals," Dyke added.

Latifi was arrested on 23 October 2007 in Sanandaj and was jailed at the prison where he has since remained. His lawyers have been trying to get him considered for an amnesty or have his case re-examined.

The death sentence was upheld by a Sanandaj appeal court on 18 February last year. (ANI)

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