Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad  (Source: BWOG)
Canadian government is upset by "unfair" treatment of its resident

Saeed Malekpour, an Iranian citizen residing in Canada, was given a rather stark reminder of the drastic differences between his home nation and his current working residence when he was arrested on a family visit.  

It turns out Mr. Malekpour had created an app for a client, which was later used to post pornographic images online, a serious violation of Islamic law.  Somehow Iranian authorities caught wind of this and the nation's Revolutionary Guard -- the nation's Islamist military/police organization -- arrested Mr. Malekpour when he was visiting relatives in 2008.

In 2010, he finally was tried before the nation's Revolutionary Court, a federal Islamist court.  He was forbidden to defend himself.  The court found him guilty and he was sentenced to death, in a decision harshly criticized by human rights advocates and Canada who complained that its former resident "failed to receive fair and transparent legal treatment."

Amidst the sweeping internet revolution that has occurred in recent years, the Revolutionary Court has made a special point of widely advertising cases like Mr. Malekpour's to "warn" citizens not to disobey the nation's strict Islamic law online.

Saeed Malekpour
Saeed Malekpour, visiting Niagara Falls, prior to his arrest. [Image Source: The Toronto Star]

But the accused has been spared of the most severe penalty -- death -- after making a plea where he "repented" for his actions.  The decision to suspend the death sentence was announced on Eid al-Fitr, the day at the end of Ramadan where people of Muslim faith commit to charity and peacemaking.  The holiday is known as a day on which Iran sometimes pardons prisoners.

Mr. Malekpour's lawyer announced the pardon on Iran's Mehr news agency, commenting, "After the sentence was confirmed my client repented for his actions. With this repentance, the death sentence has been suspended."

But the Revolutionary Court, according to Reuters, has not officially announced the suspension.  And even if it is, such decisions have been reversed in the past says The Toronto Star.  It points the case of Hamid Ghassemi-Shal, a Toronto shoe salesman who was accused of being a spy and sentenced to death.  Mr. Ghassemi-Shal was similarly reported to be spared, but his family was recently informed that the death sentence had been reinstated.  It is unknown if he has been executed, but in April 2012 his sister was told the execution was "imminent".

The stories serve as a grim reminder that while Iran has advanced remarkably in terms of industry and technology, it remains very much entrenched in archaic and punitive legal traditions.

Sources: Reuters [on the NYTimes], Toronto Star

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