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Iran billionaire sentenced to death in fraud case

[JURIST] Iran billionaire businessman Babak Zanjani was sentenced to death on Sunday after being found guilty on charges of fraud involving an oil fund, a judicial official stated. Zanjani, a 42-year-old oil tycoon who currently is one of Iran's richest men, was arrested [BBC report] in 2013 after accusations arose that he withheld $2.7 billion in oil revenues by channeling it through his various companies. According to the judicial source, Zanjani embezzled [Bloomberg report] the money from the state-run National Iranian Oil Company [official website] in an attempt to circumvent international sanctions on crude exports, and then used the Tajikistan branch of his own bank to get the money out of Iran. The crimes occurred in 2012 during the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [BBC profile], which was around when international sanctions against Iran were peaking. The court sentenced two other men to death in the case as well.

Much international pressure has been directed toward Iran in recent years for its use of the death penalty. In January Amnesty International (AI) released a report [JURIST report] on the many juvenile offenders on death row in Iran. The report states that 73 executions of juvenile offenders took place between 2005 and 2015 and that 160 juvenile offenders are currently on death row. Iran executed [JURIST report] Saman Naseem, a juvenile offender who was 17 years-old when sentenced to death in February of last year; he was charged in July 2011 with "enmity against God" and "corruption on earth." The UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran Ahmed Shaheed urged [JURIST report] Iran in April 2014 to immediately halt the execution of Reyhaneh Jabbari. Jabbari was executed [JURIST report] the following October despite international opposition. In June 2014, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay condemned [JURIST report] Iran's use of the death penalty for juvenile offenders and called on authorities to halt the announced execution of Razieh Ebrahimi, who was 14 years old when sentenced to death.

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