EU condemns stoning executions in Iran
BRUSSELS - "The European Union strongly condemns new cases of execution by stoning in the Islamic Republic of Iran," said a statement issued by the Czech Republic, which holds the EU's rotating presidency. "The European Union urgently requests that the central authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran investigate this case, and ensure that the practice of execution by stoning is effectively and permanently terminated," it said. Iran's judiciary on Tuesday confirmed that two men had been stoned to death for adultery in the northeastern city of Mashhad but that a third had struggled from the stoning hole and escaped with his life. Under Iran's Islamic law, adultery is still theoretically punishable by stoning, which involves the public hurling stones at the convict buried up to his waist. A woman is buried up to her shoulders. The convict is spared if he can free himself. Despite a 2002 directive by the judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi imposing a moratorium on such executions, five Iranians have reportedly been stoned to death in the past four years. Recalling the moratorium, the EU said: "These most recent executions not only go against the suspension, they represent a worryingly retrograde step."