Stoning woman accuses Iran of lying over charges: report
A woman sentenced to death by stoning in Iran for adultery accused authorities of lying about the charges against her so they could execute her in secret, in an interview published Saturday.
Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, 43, spoke through an intermediary for the interview with the Guardian newspaper and also put her treatment down to gender, adding "they think they can do anything to women in this country".
The case of the mother of two has sparked an international outcry, with Brazilian President President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva last week offering her asylum in his country.
Mohammadi-Ashtiani, whose sentence has been temporarily put on ice, accused Iranian officials of lying by saying she had been found guilty of conspiracy to murder her husband as well as adultery.
On Thursday, Mossadegh Kahnemoui, a senior Iranian judicial official, gave that information to the UN's Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and said that "nothing is final" in the case.
Of these comments, Mohammadi-Ashtiani said: "They're lying. They are embarrassed by the international attention on my case and they are desperately trying to distract attention and confuse the media so that they can kill me in secret."
She added: "I was found guilty of adultery and was acquitted of murder, but the man who actually killed my husband was identified and imprisoned but he is not sentenced to death."
Explaining what had happened, she went on: "It's because I'm a woman, it's because they think they can do anything to women in this country."
Mohammadi-Ashtiani also revealed that when she was first sentenced, she did not realise she was facing being stoned because she did not understand the Arabic word used.
"They asked me to sign my sentence, which I did, then I went back to the prison and my cellmates told me that I was going to be stoned to death and I instantly fainted," she said.
Her lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaie, has fled to Turkey where he requested asylum, and she said she feared she was more vulnerable without him.
"They wanted to get rid of my lawyer so that they can easily accuse me of whatever they want without having him to speak out," she told the Guardian.
Meanwhile, Mostafaie told the Times of his fears for his wife, Fereshteh Halimi, who he believes is being held in harsh conditions in Tehran's Evin prison.
The paper reported that he was set to go into exile in Norway Saturday after being released from detention in Turkey following an alleged problem with his passport when he entered the country.
© 2010 AFP