Iran’s Supreme Court has overturned the death sentence issued to a Dena Forest Ranger and returned the matter to a different branch of the penal court for review. The sentence had been confirmed three times at the Boyerahmad and Kohgilouyeh court.
In July of 2010, three forest rangers heard gun shots in the mountains of Dena National Parks, which turned out to be from a poacher. The rangers approached the poacher, later identified as Mohammad Payehgozar, and during the confrontation Payehgozar was killed by a gunshot. Gholamhossein Khaledi, one of the rangers, was charged with first degree murder.
Khaledi was sentenced to death without regard for the legal provisions allowing rangers to carry and use firearms in the course of their duties.
The Supreme Court has overturned the sentence and referred the matter to a different branch in view of the original court’s error despite three attempts at review.
The sentence had been highly criticized by environmental groups, who said it has seriously demoralized rangers, who are already engaged in the highly hazardous work of protecting endangered Iranian wildlife.