Condemned student granted a reprieve

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The Independent Online

A Kurdish student activist who was due to be executed yesterday for "waging war against God" was granted a last-minute stay of execution, his lawyer was quoted as saying.

Habibollah Latifi, a law student, was convicted of supporting an anti-government group. He was arrested in 2007 in western Iran and accused of activities on behalf of "anti-revolutionary" groups, Human Rights Watch said. He was sentenced to death in 2008, it said.

"We were informed that Latifi was going to be executed on Sunday at dawn... but his execution has been stopped for further review," student news agency ISNA quoted lawyer Nemat Ahmadi as saying. "He was sentenced to death for backing the PJAK group." No judiciary officials were available for comment.

The Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), is an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party which took up arms in 1984 for an ethnic homeland in south-east Turkey and north-west Iran.

Opposition websites said Mr Latifi was sentenced to death for "involvement in terrorist acts and membership in an armed opposition group" in the north-western Kurdish city of Sanandaj. Iran regards PJAK, which seeks autonomy for Kurdish areas in Iran and shelters near Iraq's northeastern border, as a terrorist group.

At his trial, the government said Mr Latifi had been involved in terrorist acts. Under Iran's Islamic law, waging war against God, or moharebe, is punishable by death.