Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Adultery woman 'may be killed soon'

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani was sentenced to death for adultery

The children of an Iranian woman sentenced to be stoned for adultery are worried her delayed execution could be carried out soon with the end of a death sentence moratorium for Ramadan.

Her lawyer also confirmed that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani was lashed 99 times last week in a separate punishment meted out because The Times ran a picture of an unveiled woman mistakenly identified as her. Under Iran's clerical rule, women must cover their hair in public.

With the end of Ramadan this week, the mother of two could be executed "any moment", said her lawyer Javid Houtan Kian.

The sentence was put on hold in July after an international outcry over the brutality of the punishment, and it is now being reviewed by Iran's supreme court.

Ashtiani was convicted in 2006 of having an "illicit relationship" with two men after the murder of her husband the year before and was sentenced at that time to 99 lashes. Later that year, she was also convicted of adultery and sentenced to be stoned, even though she retracted a confession that she said was made under duress.

Mr Kian said: "The possibility of stoning still exists, any moment. Her stoning sentence was only delayed. It has not been lifted yet."

She was lashed on Thursday, he said, citing information from a fellow prisoner who was released last week.

Mr Kian has been allowed no direct contact with his client since Iranian authorities broadcast a purported confession from a woman identified as Ashtiani on state-run television last month. He said: "We have no access to Ashtiani, but there is no reason for the released prisoner to lie (about the flogging)."

Earlier, the woman's son, 22-year-old Sajjad Qaderzadeh, said he did not know whether the new lashing sentence had been carried out, but he also heard about it from a prisoner who recently left the Tabriz prison where his mother is being held.

The Times, which published the photograph of her, apologised but added that the lashing "is simply a pretext". "The regime's purpose is to make Ms Ashtiani suffer for an international campaign to save her that has exposed so much iniquity," the newspaper said.

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