Lawyer urges international pressure to stop Iran stoning

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A lawyer for an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery and complicity in her husband's murder on Saturday urged the international community to keep pushing Tehran for clemency.

"The people who are going to review the case know they are under international scrutiny... They know their decision will have international ramifications," lawyer Javid Houtan Kian told The Times newspaper in Britain.

Global outrage at the sentence passed on Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, a 43-year-old mother-of-two, had saved her so far, he said.

But the lawyer added: "If they can get away with stoning Sakineh they can get away with anything."

Iranian officials have yet to take a final decision on Mohammadi-Ashtiani, who was sentenced to death by stoning after an Iranian court found her guilty of adultery and of being an accomplice in her husband's murder.

The execution has been stayed pending a review by the judiciary -- but Kian said he was not optimistic that its decision would be fair.

"If the Iranian judiciary follows the written code I would be very, very optimistic because there are so many flaws in the case. Anyone would realise that," he told The Times.

"The problem is that they don't follow their own rules any more so it's completely unpredictable."

One of Mohammadi-Ashtiani's lawyers has fled to Norway after coming under pressure from the Iranian authorities for publicising her case, and Kian said he too felt under threat.

Speaking to the newspaper by phone from the northern Iranian city of Tabriz, he said security agents had recently ransacked his house, he had been threatened several times and his mobile phone calls were being monitored.

"I would be lying to say I wasn't scared for myself," he said, but added: "I feel it is my duty as a lawyer."

He said he last saw Mohammadi-Ashtiani just before her apparent confession, allegedly under torture, on television earlier this month, when he said she was tearful and looked deathly pale.

"Just imagine how you would feel after being under sentence of stoning for the last five years and you know that every morning you could be stoned to death at 4am," he said.

© 2010 AFP

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