Iranian sentenced to death over serial rape in case that sparked #MeToo in country

Lawyer complains that sentence does not deal with compensation for victims, vows to pursue matter; case rare in Islamic Republic, where sexual abuse remains taboo subject

Illustrative: A prisoner being held in an Iranian prison. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)
Illustrative: A prisoner being held in an Iranian prison. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

TEHRAN, Iran — An Iranian court handed a preliminary death sentence to a man convicted of serial rape, local media reported Saturday, in a case that sparked a #MeToo movement in the country.

Keyvan Emamverdi, a former bookshop owner who studied archaeology, was arrested in August 2020 after at least 20 women accused him of assault, mostly anonymously, using the #rape hashtag on Twitter.

Emamverdi was sentenced to death for “corruption on earth,” said Shima Ghousheh, a lawyer representing five of the plaintiffs, according to ISNA news agency.

Ghousheh however said that the court had not addressed the issue of compensation for the victims, adding that they would “certainly object” to this.

The victims had come forward online with accusations that Emamverdi had spiked their drinks before raping them, sparking widespread anger in the Islamic Republic.

The police then called on the accusers to file a complaint against the alleged offender, without fear of being accused of drinking alcohol or having sex outside marriage, both of which are illegal in Iran.

Illustrative picture of a #MeToo supporter of the online campaign against sexual abuse and harassment. (nito100/Getty Images/iStock)

Emamverdi’s arrest was a rare move in the Islamic Republic, where sexual violence is considered a taboo subject and authorities rarely take action on such cases without a private plaintiff.

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