Last Updated: Sat Dec 11, 2010 09:34 am (KSA) 06:34 am (GMT)

Iran shows stoning woman acting out husband's murder

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani's has been sentenced to be stoned to death for adultery
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani's has been sentenced to be stoned to death for adultery

Iranian television aired a documentary on Saturday in which a woman whose stoning sentence caused global outrage staged a graphic reconstruction of her husband's murder for which she faces possible hanging.

State-run English language Press TV said its half-hour film was meant to show the other side of a story that has been misrepresented by international media, but it may prompt yet more questions about human rights and press freedom in Iran.

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani's sentenced to be stoned for adultery -- the only crime that carries that penalty under Iran's Islamic sharia law -- was declared to have been suspended in September after an international outcry.

Rumors that she had been released spread around the Internet on Thursday after human rights campaigners in Europe apparently misinterpreted photographs released ahead of the broadcast, showing Ashtiani at her home where the crime scene reconstruction was filmed, as indicating she was free.

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 leveled over several relationships, notably with the man convicted of her husband's murder, was upheld by another appeals court the same year.

Re-enacting the murder

 He said tomorrow I want to kill your husband. I asked: 'how?’ he said: 'You inject him with a drug and make him unconscious then I'll come and electrocute him 
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani

In the film, Ashtiani acts out her alleged role in the murder of her husband in a reconstruction filmed in black-and-white in a shaky hand-held camera style, accompanied by dramatic music.
It is not clear why she had agreed to take part in the film.

The documentary makers say they tracked down Ashtiani's lover and secretly filmed him. But the report does not say whether Isa Taheri, who was tried for murder along with Ashtiani, was convicted nor why he is apparently free when she is in jail.

Ashtiani recounts how Taheri planned the murder.

"He said tomorrow I want to kill your husband. I asked: 'how?’ he said: 'You inject him with a drug and make him unconscious then I'll come and electrocute him.'"

She is shown injecting her husband with a sedative before an actor playing her lover arrives to attach wires to his feet and neck and plug them into an electrical socket.

The reconstruction is interspersed with actual photographs of the dead man, Ibrahim Abedzadeh, with vivid burns on his body. The murder happened in 2005.

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.

Demonizing the Islamic Republic

The Ashtiani case has further strained relations with the West as Tehran has come under tightened sanctions aimed at pressuring it to curb its atomic activities, which some countries believe are aimed at building nuclear weapons.

Iran says international media have manipulated the story to demonize the Islamic Republic. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has publicly denied that Ashtiani was ever sentenced to stoning.

The program's narrator said the stoning sentence handed down by Iran's Supreme Court was "symbolic" and unlikely ever to be carried out, due to a legal change in 2005 that aimed to ban stoning but "has yet to be fully integrated into official Iranian law".

Press TV said it had also spoken to two German reporters who were arrested in October as they were interviewing Ashtiani's son, Sajjad Ghaderzadeh, but that they had refused to be interviewed on camera.

It identified them as Marcus Hellwig and Jens Koch, working for Germany's Bild am Sonntag, and showed a still photograph of them in an Iranian cafe and pictures of their passports. The Germans were arrested along with Ghaderzadeh and Ashtiani's lawyer in whose office the interview was taking place.

Berlin has appealed for the release of the reporters, who judicial officials say entered on tourist visas and so had no right to work as journalists under Iran's strict media controls.

Germany, along with the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, resumed talks with Tehran this week, seeking reassurances its nuclear activities will not lead it to acquire atomic weapons.

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

Tabriz prosecutor Mousa Khalilollahi alleged in the report that Ahadi was involved in counter-revolutionary groups.

"And now she has taken up this case with political motives and for her own interest in foreign countries," he added.

In the "interviews" the son and the lawyer blamed Ahadi for publicizing the case abroad and for insisting that they do an interview with the two journalists from Bild am Sonntag.

Press TV also alleged that Ahadi had been a member of Komalah, an outlawed communist Kurdish group which has clashed with security forces in northwestern Iran which has a sizable Kurdish population.

While Iranian officials say Ashtiani's case is purely a matter for the judiciary, it has become an international political cause and the head of Iran's Council of Human Rights said last month there was "a good chance that her life could be saved".

Comments »

Post Your Comment »

Social Media »