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Stoning case woman 'was not lashed'

An Iranian woman facing death by stoning after being convicted of adultery has appeared on state TV to deny she had been whipped or tortured.

Sakineh Mohammad Ashtiani, whose stoning sentence was suspended in July, was allegedly given 99 lashes on September 2 after The Times newspaper ran a picture of an unveiled woman mistakenly identified as her, her lawyer said at the time.

"I have not been tortured, at all. All these words are my own words. Nobody has forced me to appear before camera and whatever I say is my own words," said a blurry image of a woman identified as Ms Ashtiani in brief video footage.

She said reports that she had been lashed for the photograph were "false and rumours".

The case has caused an international uproar, with several countries condemning her sentence and treatment.

This is the second time Ms Ashtiani has appeared on television to counter some of the outrage over the case. The first was in August when she appeared on TV and confessed to being an accomplice to her husband's murder.

Her lawyer, Javid Houtan Kian, said he suspected she was tortured into the televised confession.

Human Rights Watch says Ms Ashtiani, a 43-year-old mother of two, was first convicted in May 2006 of having an "illicit relationship" with two men following the death of her husband and was sentenced by a court to 99 lashes. Later that year she was also convicted of adultery and sentenced to be stoned, even though she retracted a confession which she claims was made under duress.

Her lawyer said there has been no change in her case and the stoning sentence was suspended in July but not officially cancelled. He has said Ms Ashtiani was never formally put on trial on the charge of being an accomplice to murder and was not allowed to mount a defence.

Her plight has caused a global outcry and widespread criticism of Iran's justice system, which still includes stoning.


From Belfast Telegraph