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03 Sep

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani – World urged to keep pressure on Iran

World urged to keep pressure on Iran on woman’s stoning sentence

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Washington DC August 28 2010 100 cities Against Stoning and Executions

FERESHTEH Halimi has joined her husband in appealing for renewed international pressure to save his former client, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for alleged adultery.

Speaking soon after her dramatic flight from Iran, Ms Halimi said it was only the widespread publicity given to Ms Ashtiani’s case in the West that had dissuaded the regime from executing her, but she remained in serious danger.

“Her case brings shame on Iran,” said Ms Halimi, who insisted that no other country would impose such a terrible sentence for such a transgression.

The appeals of Ms Halimi and her husband, Mohammed Mostafaei, were echoed by Ms Ashtiani’s son, Sajad, 22.

“I beg you, don’t give up. If you were not there, my mother would already be dead,” he told La Regle du Jeu, a website run by French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy. “If you reduce the pressure, my mother will be executed.”

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Speaking on a mobile telephone to escape detection, he said the regime was now accusing his mother of murdering her husband so that it could “kill her more easily”. She had already been acquitted of that charge, he said.

“It’s a pure lie and an incredible injustice. My mother, who has done nothing – nothing – risks being stoned while the real murderer is free.”

Ms Ashtiani remains in the Tabriz prison where she has been for five years, living in daily terror of being taken from her cell before dawn, wrapped in a shroud, buried up to her neck and stoned to death with rocks too small, by law, to kill her instantly. She has been subjected to mock executions.

Her case is the subject of a judicial review, but her Western supporters believe this is merely a stalling tactic, the outcome of which will be determined by political, not judicial, considerations.

Ms Halimi’s escape yesterday reinforced the impression that the regime was susceptible to international pressure. Mr Mostafaei said that had it really wanted to prevent her leaving Iran, it could have confiscated her passport.

He believed it did not do so because it feared further international opprobrium.

Mr Mostafaei stressed that Ms Ashtiani was one of many victims of Iran’s flagrant human rights abuses, and he pledged to keep fighting for them from his exile.

He added that with his wife and daughter now out of Iran, he would be freer to speak out. He plans to work with international non-governmental organisations and to appear at press conferences to draw international attention to Iran’s use of show trials, torture, political executions and other blatant violations of the country’s own laws. He also intends to name those responsible.

“This is my only preoccupation,” said Mr Mostafaei, who worked pro bono for many death-row prisoners, particularly juveniles, and claims to have saved 50 lives. “Even though I’m out of Iran I’ve not left Iran in spirit. I hope I can be as useful as I was . . . and carry on helping others.”

The Times

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