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Iran TV Airs Stoning Woman's "Confession" - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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TEHRAN, (AFP) – Iran’s English-language Press TV on Friday aired footage of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a woman sentenced to death by stoning, re-enacting what it said was the murder of her husband.

The broadcast came a day after reports from Germany that she had been released, with the Iranian authorities on Friday saying Mohammadi Ashtiani was still in custody and mocking Western talk of her release.

“The defendant’s case and judicial situation have not changed and she is still in Tabriz prison. Any news of her release is a sheer lie,” Tabriz prosecutor Mousa Khalilollahi told the official IRNA news agency.

“Every once in a while foreign media give this case massive coverage for political aims.”

The Press TV report, which included interviews with Mohammadi Ashtiani, her son Sajjad and lawyer Javid Houtan Kian who are also both in jail, did not give new information about the case which has sparked an international outcry.

But it accused Germany-based Iranian anti-stoning activist Mina Ahadi of seeking to politicise the case in the Western media with the aim of undermining the Islamic republic.

A German-based campaign group said late on Thursday that Mohammadi Ashtiani had been released along with her son and lawyer after photographs of her at her home first appeared in the media.

The still photographs were taken from the television reconstruction.

Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43-year-old mother of two, was sentenced to death by two different courts in the northwestern city of Tabriz in separate trials in 2006.

Her sentence to hang for her involvement in the murder of her husband was commuted to a 10-year jail term by an appeals court in 2007.

But a second death sentence by stoning on charges of adultery levelled over several relationships, notably with the man convicted of her husband’s murder, was upheld by another appeals court the same year.

The “reconstruction” aired on Friday showed Mohammadi Ashtiani repeating details of her husband’s murder – as previously described by Iranian officials – in her home in the small town of Oskou in northwest Iran.

It was the third time she had been paraded on Iranian television, but unlike previous times she appeared in a headscarf and coat instead of the head-to-toe black chador and spoke in fluent Farsi instead of the Azeri spoken in her home province of East Azarbaijan.

The report also showed pictures of two German journalists jailed since October along with Mohammadi Ashtiani’s son and lawyer after reportedly conducting an interview with Sajjad.

Before the broadcast, the English-language satellite channel said the programme “will shed light on the highways and byways of the murder.”

Faced with an international campaign for Mohammadi Ashtiani’s release, Iran has sought to shift the focus from adultery charges to her involvement in murder.

Amnesty International condemned the broadcast before it was aired.

The London-based rights group said “international standards for fair trial guarantee the right not to be forced to incriminate oneself or to confess guilt.”

“It appears that the Iranian authorities are using the Iranian media as a tool to portray her as a dangerous criminal who deserves to be executed,” Amnesty said.

In an earlier televised interview in August, a woman said to be Mohammadi Ashtiani admitted a man with whom she was acquainted had offered to kill her husband and that she let him carry out the crime.

And in footage aired in September, the woman denied that she was lashed in prison and tortured.

Mohammadi Ashtiani’s current lawyer, Javid Houtan Kian, was arrested in Tabriz in September along with the two Germans interviewing her son. The pair, who entered Iran on tourist visas, worked for Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

Mohammadi Ashtiani’s first lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaie, fled Iran for Norway last July, when Tehran issued a warrant for his arrest.

The sentence handed down against her sparked international outrage and diplomatic intervention by several Western governments as well as the Vatican.

In July, Tehran said the sentence to death by stoning had been stayed pending a full review of her case.

In 2002, then judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi imposed a moratorium on death by stoning and Iranian officials denied any such sentences were carried out.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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