Iran may postpone execution of VUB guest lecturer Djalali

Iran may postpone execution of VUB guest lecturer Djalali
© Dirk Waem/Belga

Iran may postpone the execution of the Iranian-Swedish scientist and VUB guest professor Ahmadreza Djalali, due to be executed before 21 May, according to the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

At the start of the month, the Iranian authorities announced that Djalali, an Iranian-Swedish scientist who has been imprisoned in Iran for more than five years after he was arrested during a working visit to the country, would be executed before 21 May.

"Djalali's conviction is final, as announced by the judiciary,” Foreign Affairs spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters on Monday.

When asked whether Djalali and his lawyers had asked for a review of the verdict, Khatibzadeh said that "they have asked for the execution to be postponed until another time. This is under investigation, the judiciary will of course follow the case."

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"The EU has been following the case of Dr. Djalali very closely since 2016 and operates in close coordination with the Swedish Government, which has direct consular responsibilities," Peter Stano, EU foreign affairs spokesperson, told The Brussels Times.

"The EU has a longstanding and clear position on Iran’s distressing practice of arbitrarily detaining EU-Iranian dual nationals and foreign citizens. No individual should be used as a pawn," he added. "As part of the bilateral engagement with Iran, the EU calls on the Iranian authorities to ensure that no individual is detained arbitrarily."

On Friday, the European Union's representative for Iran's nuclear talks, Enrique Mora, said that he had urged Iran to release Djalali "on humanitarian grounds."

At the end of October 2017, Djalali was sentenced to death after what human rights experts called a "manifestly unfair trial." According to Amnesty International, Djajali was forced to confession under torture and spent the first three months of his detention in solitary confinement.

His lawyer was not allowed to visit him until seven months after his arrest. Currently, Djalali is said to be in very poor health.

An Amnesty International petition to demand his release, signed by over 135,000 people so far, can be found here.

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