Environmentalists strive to save Iranian ranger from death row

June 23, 2018

TEHRAN — Environmentalists are soliciting contributions from the public in an attempt to save Iranian ranger, Vatan Norouzi, from death row.

Norouzi, a ranger in Fras province, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter four years ago after he got involved in an armed conflict with a poacher, Mahmoud Behzadi.

Norouzi, father of two, was sentenced to death (also known as qisas in Islamic law) by the court.

In the case of murder, qisas means the right of a murder victim's nearest relative (legal guardian) to, if the court approves, take the life of the killer. However, the law also allows aggrieved parties to receive monetary compensation (blood money) instead of qisas.

With the help of environmental officials and activists the victim’s family agreed to receive 7.5 billion rials (nearly $180,000) instead of qisas, Ahmad Bahri, a ranger, has said.

So far the Department of Environment has paid 2.1 billion rials (nearly $50,000) to the victim’s family and environmentalists are soliciting donations from the public and environment lovers to help free ranger Norouzi, Bahri added; however, he didn’t provide any further information on the amount of contributions collected so far.

Bahri also commented on the bill to support rangers drafted by the Department of Environment in July 2016, which is still being hammered out in Majlis [Iranian Parliament].

“If the bill is approved by the Majlis the rangers will not be convicted of such crimes as much and even when they are found guilty the Department of Environment will be legally bound to compensate for the losses,” he stated.

Based on the bill, rangers are covered by articles 12 to 15 of the law concerning the use of weapons in emergencies by armed forces meaning that if the court concludes that a ranger involved in an accident has abided by the law, the government should bear the financial costs incurred by the ranger, ranging from legal fees to possible monetary compensation demanded by the family of a poacher because of bodily harm or loss of life. The bill also proposes harsh punishments for poachers who attack rangers and help to expedite the decision-making process for the cases involving rangers.

Multiple deaths and injuries of the rangers occur while trying to safeguard the environment and wildlife. Rangers who risk their lives protecting the environment and wildlife sometimes fall victims by getting into fight with poachers and may either suffer severe wounds, get killed, or charged with involuntary manslaughter.

In April 2018 three rangers were wounded in an armed conflict with poachers in the southwestern province of Khuzestan while patrolling Dez National Park. The three rangers who didn’t wear bulletproof vests were shot in the arm and shoulder.

In June 2016, two rangers named Mohammad Dehqani and Parviz Hormozi were killed during an armed conflict with poachers. Moreover, ranger Asadollah Taqizadeh was sentenced to death for killing a poacher in July 2007 in Dena forest. Fortunately in Taqizadeh’s case the deceased family spared his life and he got released from the prison in March 2016.

MQ/PA

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