It was difficult, but Elham finally decided that she could not live without him. She decided to marry him. Marrying a person due to be executed was a strange but romantic choice. Everything, from the first meeting to the proposal, happened in the prison. The young boy never thought that in the extremes of despair, a young girl could bring hope to his life. Elham wants to marry him, so she can perhaps save him. Both her and her family are happy for the marriage to go ahead – a marriage to a boy who won’t live much longer, unless they can gain forgiveness from the victim’s next of kin.
This is not going to change Elham’s mind, however. She doesn’t have any doubt. To marry him, she has gone and got permission from the criminal court. They will be married on Thursday, on Imam Ali’s birthday. Yesterday morning, she went to the court for the last time, and after meeting Judge Shahriari, head of Tehran criminal court, received her marriage permission.
This educated girl tells her own story, from meeting the boy to reaching this momentous decision.
How old are you?
What’s your level of education?
I completed my Master’s in Physical Education.
What is your job?
I own a gym, where I work as a trainer.
Tell us about meeting this young boy.
It was almost 5 months ago when I met Mehrdad in prison. This was when I used to go there to visit my brother. I met Mehrdad’s mother, who was there to visit her son. They both looked very sad. From listening to their conversation, I could hear the boy repeating that he was innocent. His mother was just crying with intense sadness. I was curious to know more.
Why was your brother in prison?
He was there for 14 days, for drinking alcohol. I was constantly visiting him.
What happened next?
After seeing this mother and son, I wanted to know more about their case, so I asked my brother. He told me that they were cellmates. He said that Mehrdad had killed someone, and was awaiting execution. I was interested about his claim of innocence, if he had killed someone. On my next visit, I gave him my phone number, through his mother, hoping that I could do something.
Why did you do this?
I don’t know. I feel that, from the very first time, I felt a connection with him, so I decided to help him.
What happened next?
Mehrdad called me, and we talked. He told me about the murder he’d committed. He said that, on January 4, 2010, he had been asleep in his bed, when his brother and his nephew [Mehrdad’s sister’s son] started fighting. When Mehrdad got up, he found that his brother had been stabbed in the side. He picked up the knife, trying to end the fight, but the nephew ran away. Mehrdad ran after him, and while catching up with him, tripped over a brick, accidentally stabbing and killing the boy with the knife. After that, Mehrdad was found guilty of murder, and was sentenced to death.
His sister’s family won’t forgive him?
They say that if they receive IRR5bn [approx. $150,000], they will forgive him, but Mehrdad doesn’t have that much.
What made you decide to marry him?
When I met Mehrdad, and talked with him, I had a good feeling. We had a great connection, and eventually he proposed, and I accepted. We now have a date, and plan to get married on Imam Ali’s birthday.
What is your plan for after the wedding?
The family of the victim requested IRR5bn. I’m trying to collect the blood money for my future husband, to get him out of jail. I’m asking for help from the public, too.
Your family wasn’t against the marriage?
No. My family don’t disagree at all. My father is slightly unhappy about it, but I’m sure he will come round to the idea.
If your husband gets executed, what will you do?
I’ll do whatever it takes to save him.