Iran Sentences Four to Death for Fraud: Punishment fits the Crime?

A very significant prosecution is under way in Iran, against an Iranian corporation and its chief officers for fraud and corruption that created gains of $2.6 billion for the Corporation.  Interestingly, the actual name of the Corporation and the main defendant has been given a nickname by the prosecution.  This secrecy is believed to be orchestrated by the politicians that may have potentially aided the corporation and other Iranian leaders who wish to keep information from the public for the time being.  The irony of the situation is alarming, but four of the 39 defendants in the case have been given death sentences, others life sentences and the remainder prison terms up to 25 years for their various roles in the fraud.  Aside from the suspect prosecution and lack of information regarding the identities of the defendants and the true name of the corporation in question, the capital punishment employed by the Iranian legal system raises concerns to be discussed on a larger scale.

Capital Punishment continues to be a strongly debated issue globally, and the various documents and declarations written by the United Nations have been cited repeatedly against the imposition of capital punishment.  Particularly documents such as Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which provides for the liberties and right to life of all people.  The issue becomes even more poignant when capital punishment is administered in cases in which the Defendant did no physical harm to any victims.  The aforementioned case, involves white collar crime but the degree of punishment that should be administered for such crimes should be examined.

Should capital punishment be employed in cases of fraud such as the one in Iran?  What is the justification for administering capital punishment in such cases?  Is capital punishment a more effective form of punishment than other forms?

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  1. I can’t think of any possible justification for capital punishment in fraud and white collar crime cases. As Amanjit noted, no one was physically harmed here. Would we have been so cavalier as to call for Ken Lay’s death when Enron went belly up or for the heads of the big wall street firms during the 2008 financial crisis? Unfortunately, Iran is a sovereign nation and we must respect their legal decisions (no matter how unjust they seem) the same way we’d want them to respect our court system.

  2. I completely agree with Brian. There is no reason to enforce capital punishment on those who have committed fraud or white collar crimes. Although these crimes are terrible acts I do not think they warrant taking a person’s life. In this case it was a $2.6 billion fraud; however, I do not think that just because the sum of money was large such a harsh punishment should be enforced. I think it is a little extreme to take the life of a person who was not responsible for taking a life. I wonder how it was determined that four of the people involved in the fraud deserved the death penalty, while the other 35 escaped that fate. I wonder what it was that those four did that caused them to deserve capital punishment over all of the others involved.

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