Man Who Beheaded His 17-Year-Old Wife Jailed For Just 8 Years in Iran

Sajjad Heydarnawa, who was filmed carrying the decapitated head of his wife, Mona, has been given a lighter punishment than many anti-government protesters.
Sajjad Mona Heydari iran beheaded
Mona Heydarnawa. PHOTO: Center for Human Rights in Iran.

Iranians are criticising an eight-year jail sentence given to a man who beheaded his wife, saying the punishment is far too lenient. 

Iran’s judiciary announced on Wednesday that a man who beheaded his 17-year-old wife last year, has been sentenced to just eight years and two months in prison.

Sajjad Heydarnawa, whose name is also spelled Sajjad Heydari in English language media, was found guilty of murder, assault and disturbing public order.


Iran’s state media, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), reported last February that Mona Heydarnawa, sometimes styled Mona Heydari, had been murdered in a so-called “honour killing”, and that she had been married to Sajjad since she was 12.

The IRNA added that a video had been circulating on social media showing her husband, Sajjad Heydarnawa, walking in the provincial capital of Ahvaz smiling and carrying his wife’s head. 

In addition to Sajjad Heydarnawa’s sentencing, the spokesperson for the judiciary Massud Setayeshi announced that his brother, Heydar Heydarnawa, was also sentenced to 45 months of prison for being an accomplice in the murder. He added that the parents of the victim had “announced their forgiveness,” according to local media outlet Entekhab.


Hundreds of accounts have been tweeting a hashtag featuring her name since the announcement, with many users contrasting the short sentence passed with the 10-year jail term given to the documentary maker Mojgan Ilanlu, who had been supporting the country’s recent women’s rights protests.

 Ashkan Khatibi, an Iranian actor, said “it is better to kill in broad daylight than to be free” according to Farsi radio station Radio Farda, comparing his sentence to that of protesters. 

The Center for Human Rights in Iran, an American NGO, reports that at least 109 protesters are at risk of execution, having been sentenced to death or charged with capital offences. Human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have denounced the regime’s practice of sham trials in the Revolutionary Courts designed to repress popular uprisings. 

As well as widespread online criticism of Heydari’s sentencing, BBC Persian has reported that  Ilham Azad, a member of the Iranian parliament, said that there is no law that has an executive guarantee to protect women from violence. 

Since Mona Heydarnawa’s murder, no changes have been made to Iran’s laws dealing with violence against women. 

So-called “honour killings” are punishable in Iran by up to 10 years in prison – unlike murder, which carries a sentence of life imprisonment or the death penalty.