On this date one year ago, a teenager who saved himself with a flute cheated Iran’s hangman by the narrowest of margins.
Sina Paymard had had the hemp about his throat the previous fall for murdering — at the tender age of 16 — a drug dealer in a pot buy gone bad.
The bipolar young musician’s last request was to play the ney (a Persian flute), and in a feat fit for legend, he played so movingly that the family of the victim reprieved him.
This power under Islamic sharia law comes with a price: the reprieve bought time for the families to negotiate alternative financial compensation known as diyeh. Come July, the lad’s family was still $90,000 short, and he was shifted to Tehran’s Evin prison to do the whole thing over again.
Sina’s new execution date received worldwide attention:
… helping them scrape together enough from donors (“notably a substantial donation from a university lecturer”) to make good his escape.
Such are the vicissitudes of the Iranian judiciary that Paymard went from all but dancing on air twice to outright liberty: he’s a free man today, or was as of a few months ago.
Though things worked out for Sina Paymard, other juvenile offenders continue to face the ultimate sanction in Iran — virtually the last outpost of the practice on the globe. Earlier this month, StopChildExecutions.com detailed 138 Iranian prisoners condemned for crimes committed as children; Iran has executed at least two such prisoners this year.