Rights group raises alarm about Iran stoning woman's son

11th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

A rights group said Monday it feared that the son and lawyer of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning, had been arrested along with two German journalists.

Mina Ahadi, founder of the International Committees against Execution and Stonings, said she was on a telephone hook-up Sunday with Ashtiani's son Sajjad and her lawyer Javid Houtan Kian as they were being interviewed by the journalists.

"Suddenly one of the journalists shouted, 'What's happening', and then said, 'Mrs Ahadi, I must hang up,' Ahadi told AFP.

"Since then, I've had no news," Ahadi said. "Normally we talk to each other daily. I'v spoken to friends of Sajjad in Tabriz, and they've had no news either.

"I'm 100 percent sure they've been arrested, but we don't know where they are."

Ahadi said the two journalists were working for a German newspaper, but refused to name them for "security reasons."

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.

The first death sentence, by hanging, for her involvement in the murder of her husband, was commuted to a 10-year jail term by an appeals court in 2007.

But the second, by stoning, was on a charge 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.

Since July, Iranian officials have said repeatedly that the stoning sentence has been stayed, in the face of an international outcry that has seen strong representations by the French and Italian governments as well as the Vatican.

Foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters on September 28 that "the judicial process has not yet finished and the final judgement will be announced after the end of the process."

Prosecutor General Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei, who also serves as the spokesman of the judiciary, said that Ashtiani's case "should not be politicised."

"The judiciary will not be influenced by the propaganda campaign launched by the Western media," he said.

Ashtiani's previous lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaie, fled Iran for Norway when Tehran issued an arrest warrant against him at the end of July.

© 2010 AFP

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