BEIRUT (AFP) – Human Rights Watch has expressed “grave concerns” that Iran will soon execute a woman sentenced to death by stoning after she made a televised confession.
The “televised confession by Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani heightens the already grave concern that Iran will soon execute the 43-year-old woman,” the New York-based watchdog said in a statement issued here late on Friday.
On Wednesday, a woman dressed in a face-covering chador and said to be Mohammadi-Ashtiani confessed on Iranian television to being an accomplice in her husband’s murder in 2006.
“The men who run Iran apparently have no shame at all, first pronouncing the barbaric sentence of death by stoning and then resorting to a televised confession,” HRW’s Nadya Khalife said in the statement.
“Under the circumstances there is every reason to believe that this so-called confession was coerced,” said Khalife, HRW’s researcher for women’s rights in the Middle East.
Mohammadi-Ashtiani’s lawyer, Javid Kian, told HRW that the televised confession was coerced by authorities in the Islamic republic.
“It’s obvious that she (was under pressure). We should only be surprised if this were not the case,” said Kian, who described the confession as a “pantomime.”
The lawyer, who said Iranian authorities have prevented him from seeing his client, added he expected the Supreme Court to make its final ruling in the next few days on whether her execution will go ahead.
On July 11, state news agency IRNA reported that Iran’s judiciary chief Sadeq Larijani temporarily halted the execution, after the case attracted international condemnation.