French philosopher doubts Iranian stoning woman 'confession'

11th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy on Saturday expressed doubts about an Iranian television "re-enactment" of a murder by a woman sentenced to death by stoning.

In the broadcast a woman said to be Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani was shown re-enacting the murder of her husband, explaining how she killed him.

The 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.

Levy said he believed there were "good reasons to doubt the identity of the person presented as Sakineh", citing concerns over her accent and linguistic ability.

The broadcast, which included interviews with her, 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 and calls for her release.

But even if the programme did show Mohammadi-Ashtiani, Levy said, it was clear to him that she was speaking under "constraint."

He denounced it as an "obscenity aimed exclusively at the West" and said the Iranian authorities only had one aim of "blackening Sakineh, of demonising here in order to justify her execution in our eyes."

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.

© 2010 AFP

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