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IRAN: Woman sentenced to stoning death 'confesses' to assisting murder, slams her lawyer on state TV


A 43-year-old mother of two who recently was sentenced to death by stoning has admitted she was an accomplice to her husband's murderer, confessed to adultery, and posed stark criticism to her lawyer in an interview aired on Iranian state TV.

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani from the Tabriz area said that she had been involved in a romantic relationship with her husband's cousin and claimed the cousin was her husband's murderer.

It was in 2005 "that I started communicating with a man via telephone. He criticized my husband and said that he was not a true husband to me. He deceived me by his words and said let's kill my husband," she said in an interview on one of the main channels of state TV on Wednesday night.

Some leading Iranian legal experts, however, found Ashtiani's publicized TV appearance puzzling and cast serious doubt over the confession.

"Why now is she on TV, I ask?" Abulsamad Khorram-Shahi, the defense lawyer of several women sentenced to death by stoning, told Babylon & Beyond. "Why did she, the defendant, accept to have a lawyer and now is on TV to talk against him and accept that she deserves the punishment?"

An Iranian human-rights activist dismissed the whole show as an attempt to divert attention from the Islamic Republic's human rights record.

"The confession on TV aimed to reduce the important issue of human rights in Iran to sexual affairs and adultery and persuade public opinion that supporters of human rights, including the defense lawyer, are in fact supporters of perverts and killers and not decent people," Hamid B, told Babylon & Beyond.

It was not possible to determine the woman's identity, as Ashtiani's face had been blurred in the interview. As she spoke in her native Azari, her words were simultaneously dubbed into Farsi.

"I did not believe that my husband would be killed. I used to think that [the cousin] was joking. I was saying to myself that he was crazy,"  she said.

But she says she realized that the man was serious about eliminating her husband when he turned up one day at her house with intentions to kill Ashtiani's husband: "That day my mother-in-law was in our house. When I went to give her medicine, I realized that this man had come with all the required equipment. He had brought electric devices, wire and gloves. He then killed my husband by electrocuting him. He had asked me before to send my children to their grandmother's house," she said.

A judiciary official then appeared on the show to explain in detail Ashtiani's complicity in her husband's murder.

"The manner she killed her husband was that she anesthetized her husband by an injection. Then the main killer electrocuted him by connecting two electric wires to the neck of the victim. The murder scene was prepared in advance," the official said.

It was not immediately clear whether the cousin had been arrested. Ashtiani has previously been flogged 99 times for striking up romantic relationships with two men after her husband's death.

Her stoning sentence has drawn international outrage and has reportedly been suspended pending a review by the Iranian judiciary. But Iranian judicial officials have said that the sentence could still be implemented.

Following her alleged confession, there are now fears that her death is imminent, and media reports now say Ashtiani may be hanged instead of being stoned.

The show host said Western media had given Ashtiani's case attention in a bid to pressure the Islamic Republic to release three American hikers who have been in prison in Iran for more than a year.

Aside from her confession to a murder conspiracy and adultery, Ashtiani also staunchly criticized her lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, who recently fled Iran. He is reportedly in Norway seeking asylum. While he served as Ashtiani's defense lawyer in Iran, some of Mostafaei's family members were said to have been detained.

In ALeqM5j0cUZLWjAOeAsIg0a9WpSA7lgf2w the interview, she said that Mostafaei's publicizing of her case had angered her and that she is now looking to file a complaint against him.

"Why has he taken my case to the TV? Why has he disgraced me? Not all my relatives knew that I was in prison. Why did he do this to me? I tell Mostafaei that you have no damn right to disgrace me. I want to complain against him," she said.

Her lawyer's sudden flight has led some Iranian lawyers to suspect that he was an opportunist looking for a way of the country.

"Regarding her defense lawyer,I think he was misusing her client's case to seek asylum. I am afraid it is becoming a fashion to use a human-rights case to seek asylum or migrate to Western countries. It is becoming a business for some people," Iranian lawyer Dr. Naser Zarafshan told Babylon & Beyond.

He also expressed sympathy for Ashtiani, saying stoning for adultery is not an acceptable punishment.

"I sympathize with the ordeals of Sakineh. She might even have been even raped by her killed husband,"he said.

-- Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran and Alexandra Sandels in Beirut

Photos: Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. Credit: Facebook. Lower image: A member of the International Committee Against Stoning holds a placard showing the face of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. Credit: Agence France-Presse

Comments () | Archives (7)

If anything we attacked the wrong country, Iran
is much more dangerous than Iraq. I prefer we just let the arabs sort there stuff out and if they get too fresh just bomb them with jets. The whole thing is a mess, thanks a lot president Bush.

Something to ponder ________________
* Fundamentalist Christians (Jews, Hindus, etc) are against gay marriage, but NEVER have & never will advocate KILLING homosexuals like radical Muslims do

* Radical Islamists BOMB schools that allow girl students, when school is in SESSION

* Radical Muslims perpetrate SUICIDE BOMBING, which NO other religion has done

* Radical Muslims behead "infidels" which no other religion has done in 500 years

* Radical Islam is the ONLY religion that has DEATH PENALTY for those who convert to ANY OTHER RELIGION

* Fundamentalist Islam oppresses women with "honor killings" & basic denial of human rights such as driving, voting, holding political office or even chossing their own wardrobe

Islam is in DRASTIC need of the same kind of reformation that other religions have already done LONG AGO, so that their women (and former believers) can stop living in the Dark Ages & joining the rest of us in the 21st century.

reply. ainnee,
thank you for your reply MANY years ago i grew up playing with arab/muslem kids, with no big problem at all, and we had and were taught respect for each other our family were friends but more and more bad guys tried to break up these types of friendship,i have defended our cousins as far as i was concerned that was the job,and even though like us all i have my say i have maintained that not all are bad and when i say nut cases this should be understood that i feel the true teaching of the quran has been distorted so badly it cant be recognised any more and has pushed people into a faith that now only seems to be built on fear and death,thank you.

You SEE! If people get so HYPER-EMOTIONAL and base their actions on such stance, monkeys and morons will always use this emotional advantage to make fools out of a so called most sophisticated and modern democratic people to be EMOTIONAL-NUTS. In other words, most emotional motivated actions are mostly WRONG responses which I am also prone to when after all I am also of flesh and blood with the same moronic mentality as humans.

"It was not possible to determine the woman's identity, as Ashtiani's face had been blurred in the interview. As she spoke in her native Azari, her words were simultaneously dubbed into Farsi."

So why believe this "confession" at all?

@sam Islam is a religion for those who study, understand , and live the message of the Qur'an. The stoning to death or execution of this woman is not the fault of Islam and its true followers, nor should it be a basis for saying it is a religion for nut cases. In any case, the woman's country is oppressive to women. It should review its policies.

we have good and bad in all races.
but if you are aware of the laws dont, do the crime if you cant, do the time
they do not care who they kill any-body will do all in the name of islam,
a religion for nut cases/and muslems who dont agree are also scared of the chop,reading earlier that fasting teaches patience and control over desires and, instincts,of course this doesn't cover murder,bombing,and various other blood sports that the mad men enjoy,

I watched The Stoning of Soraya. I don't care whether the woman in this article is guilty or not. No one deserves to be stoned to death.


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