Iran Stoning Case Woman Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani To Be Hanged

This is an update on this story.

From the Herald Sun:
THE Iranian woman who became the centre of an international outcry after being sentenced to death by stoning for adultery will now be hanged for murdering her husband.

The new fate planned for Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani was announced by Iran’s national prosecutor general, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, at a news conference in Tehran today.

“According to the court’s ruling, she is convicted of murder and her death sentence has priority over her punishment [for committing adultery]”, the Tehran Times reported, citing Mohseni-Ejei.

The newspaper said that the prosecutor’s remarks mean Ashtiani - an illiterate 43-year-old Azeri mother of two whose husband was killed by her cousin - will not be stoned to death for committing adultery because she should first be executed for murder.

“The issue should not be politicised and the judiciary will not be influenced by the propaganda campaign launched by the Western media,” added Mohseni-Ejei, who also serves as the judiciary spokesman.

However the Iranian government today appeared to contradict Mohseni-Ejei's statements by claiming that no final decision had yet been taken in the case.

“The judicial process has not yet finished and the final judgement will be announced after the end of the process,” said foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast.

Ashtiani has spent years in prison under threat of being stoned for alleged adultery with her cousin.

She has been denied access to her family and lawyer, who were persecuted for publicising her case. The strength of the outcry in the West has been credited with delaying the sentence.

The Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was repeatedly tackled about Ashtiani’s case when he visited New York last week to address the United Nations.

In contradiction to his country’s judicial officials, Ahmadinejad denied that Ashtiani had ever been sentenced to death by stoning and suggested that the international outcry had been whipped up by Western media propaganda.

“There’s no stoning case here at all,” he told Larry King Live. “A person in Germany made this claim, which was untrue. Our judiciary also said it was untrue.”

On the day of Ahmadinejad’s address an open letter was released from Ashtiani’s son to Ban Ki-Moon, the UN secretary-general.

In it he begged him to intervene to save his mother’s life, dismissing the Islamic Republic’s professed commitment to human rights as an “absolute lie” and calling for an international ban on stoning.

Sajad Ghaderzade, 22, a bus driver from Tabriz, said that his mother had been acquitted of murdering her husband but sentenced to be stoned to death after being convicted, instead, of adultery.

The statement by the prosecutor general suggested that the courts have overturned their earlier judgment.

Mohseni-Ejei also threatened that the Iranian authorities were ready to prosecute the leaders of the Iranian opposition, Mahdi Karroubi and Mir-Hossein Mousavi, if they did not stop criticising the regime.

“The leaders of sedition have undermined the interests of the nation and system. Undoubtedly, they will be tried if they don’t repent their actions and express their regret publicly,” he said.

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