TABRIZ, Iran, (AP) – The son of an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery demanded Saturday that his mother’s verdict be commuted.
In his first public meeting with journalists, Sajjad Qaderzadeh told reporters in the northwest city of Tabriz that he had been freed on Dec. 12 after posting a $40,000 bail and now wants to devote his life to saving his mother.
“We lost our father and we don’t want to lose our mother. We demand that her verdict be commuted,” Qaderzadeh told reporters.
He was originally arrested in October after speaking with two German journalists about his mother’s case. The Germans were also arrested and remain in custody.
Several unidentified people, apparently local officials and possibly plainclothes security officers, were present during the interview, which was Qaderzadeh’s first with the international press.
He said he was arrested because the German journalists broke the law by entering the country on tourist visas and then reporting, but it was not clear if he was ever charged.
Later Saturday, journalists were allowed to briefly meet Ashtiani who again confessed to being an accomplice in the murder of her husband, while maintaining that it was her lover, Isa Taheri, who did the actual killing.
“Taheri came to our house and scuffled with my husband. He told me to give the injection he had already prepared,” she told reporters after she had dinner with her son.
Ashtiani denied that she was ever tortured during her imprisonment, as had been alleged by her former lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei.
“I want the world to hear me, saying I was tortured is a lie. I was never tortured in prison,” she said, criticizing Mostafaei, for internationalizing her case for his own ends.
Ashtiani was convicted of adultery in 2006 after the murder of her husband and sentenced to death by stoning. In the face of international outrage the sentence has been suspended and is under review by the Supreme Court.
She was later convicted of being an accessory to her husband’s murder and sentenced to 10 years in prison, said her son.
In the wake of the international outcry over the verdict, the Iranian government has been at pains to show that Ashtiani is guilty, airing several interviews with her repeatedly confessing her crimes.
Qaderzadeh told journalists that he didn’t doubt his mother was guilty, but he asked that her stoning sentence be commuted.
“I do not think that my mother is innocent. She is certainly guilty,” he said. “However, the decision has to be made by our country’s officials. They may change the stoning sentence to some other verdict.”
Qaderzadeh said it was not fair that his mother was in jail but that the man who murdered his father, Isa Taheri, was free.
“The question is why Taheri is free? … I’ll get Taheri to face justice even if I need to become a lawyer or memorize the book of law,” he said.
Stoning was widely imposed in the years following the 1979 Islamic revolution, and even though Iran’s judiciary still regularly hands down such sentences, they are often converted to other punishments.
The last known stoning was carried out in 2007, although the government rarely confirms that such punishments have been meted out.
Under Islamic rulings, a man is usually buried up to his waist, while a woman is buried up to her chest with her hands also buried. Those carrying out the verdict then throw stones until the condemned dies.