Man sentenced to death for murders of Iranian director and his wife
A man has been condemned to death for the killings of the renowned Iranian film director Dariush Mehrjui and his wife, Vahideh Mohammadifar.
Mehrjui and Mohammadifar were fatally stabbed in their residence in Karaj, near Tehran, in October.
According to the chief justice of Alborz province, three other individuals were sentenced to imprisonment ranging from 8 to 36 years for their involvement in planning and facilitating the murders.
Mehrjui, aged 83, was recognized as one of the pioneers of Iranian new-wave cinema, while Mohammadifar also contributed to the film industry as a screenwriter and costume designer.
The bodies of the couple were discovered by their daughter after she was invited to their home for dinner, stated Alborz province chief justice Hossein Fazeli-Harikandi at the time.
In the ruling released on Monday on the Iranian judiciary’s Mizan website, Mr. Fazeli-Harikandi indicated that the four defendants admitted to the crimes shortly after being apprehended in the days following the murders.
Mr. Fazeli-Harikandi further mentioned that the convicted perpetrator, who remains unnamed, received a death sentence under the Islamic law of retribution, following a request from Mehrjui’s family.
As per AFP news agency’s report, Mr. Fazeli-Harikandi previously stated that the perpetrator had previously been employed by Mehrjui and held “resentment against the deceased over financial matters.”
The verdicts for all those convicted are not final and may be appealed at the Supreme Court, according to Mizan.
Tributes poured in for the couple after their deaths.
Prominent Iranian actor Reza Kianian was quoted by the Tehran Times as saying: “If there were and are five renowned directors in the history of Iranian cinema, without a doubt, one of them was Dariush Mehrjui.”
Bahram Radan, another prominent actor who starred in one of Mehrjui’s films, The Santur Player, posted a scene from the film alongside a photo of Mehrjui’s family with the caption: “How strange, how heartbreaking, how ruthless, woe to us.”
Mehrjui, who studied in the US as a young man and later lived in France for five years, first rose to national and international prominence with his 1969 film The Cow, which tells the story of a villager’s obsession with the titular animal.
His other notable films include Hamoun, The Pear Tree, and Leila – about an infertile woman who encourages her husband to marry for a second time.
Mehrjui won many awards and his films were celebrated at international film festivals. But they were also subject to censorship in Iran, with many never seeing the light of day there.