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Updated: December 10, 2010 19:10 IST

Iran to air new footage of woman in stoning case

AP
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In this undated file image made available by Amnesty International in London on July 8, 2010, is 43-year-old Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery. AP.
In this undated file image made available by Amnesty International in London on July 8, 2010, is 43-year-old Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery. AP.

Iran’s state TV said on Friday it will air new footage of an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, the latest in state-orchestrated broadcasts on a case that has raised an international outcry.

The footage, to be aired late Friday, will show Sakineh Mohammedi Ashtiani at her home in northwestern Iran giving a re-enactment of the murder of her husband, in which Iranian officials say she had a role, according to English-language Press TV.

After international criticism erupted over the adultery sentence, Iranian officials announced that Ashtiani had also been convicted in the killing, a conviction that could bring her the death penalty.

Iran has waged a heavy public campaign in an attempt to counter the world outcry, both by trying to depict Ashtiani as a murderer and by accusing the West of stirring up controversy to damage Iran’s Islamic leadership. Ashtiani has been brought out several times before on Iranian TV, including one time to confess to the murder - though her lawyer at the time and human rights groups outside Iran contended the confession was forced.

In the new footage, the 43-year-old mother was brought to her home outside the city of Tabriz to “produce a visual recount of the crime at the murder scene,” Press TV reported.

It appeared that Ashtiani’s face would be shown for the first time in the footage. In previous video of her aired on state TV, her face was blurred, but Press TV released still photos taken from the latest video showing her face, wearing a scarf over her hair, as she stands in various rooms of her home and - in one photo - wipes tears. The only previous picture of Ashtiani is undated.

In the footage, she was accompanied by her son, Sajjad Qaderzadeh, who was arrested in October along with her lawyer Houtan Kian and two German journalists. The two Germans were detained while trying to interview Ashtiani’s family.

Mr. Kian had been vocally critical of the case, saying that Ashtiani was tortured into confessing and that she had never been formally tried for murder, suggesting the murder conviction was added later after the controversy over the stoning sentence erupted.

Ashtiani was convicted in 2006 of having an “illicit relationship” with two men after the murder of her husband the year before and was sentenced at that time to 99 lashes. Later that year, she was also convicted of adultery and sentenced to be stoned, even though she retracted a confession that she says was made under duress.

Amid pressure from rights groups, Iran has put Ashtiani’s stoning sentence on hold for review by the supreme court. But she could still face execution by hanging in connection with the murder charge.

In a purported statement broadcast on Iranian state television last month, Ashtiani called herself a “sinner.” In the same footage, Qaderzadeh retracted allegations that his mother was tortured and criticized Mr. Kian and Ashtiani’s previous lawyer - who fled to Norway this summer - for publicizing the case.

Mr. Kian also said in the footage that he advised Qaderzadeh to lie to Western journalists.

In August, Iranian state TV aired footage of a woman said to be Ashtiani confessing that she was an unwitting accomplice in her husband’s murder. Her face was blurred and a woman who was not seen translated her words into Farsi from Azeri Turkish, which is spoken in parts of Iran.

“I established telephone contacts with a man in 2005,” she said. “He deceived me by his language. ... He told me, ‘Let’s kill your husband.’ I could not believe at all that my husband would be killed. I thought he was joking. ... Later I learned that killing was his profession.” She said the man, whom she did not identify, brought electrical devices, wire and gloves to her house and electrocuted her husband while she watched.

Malek Ajdar Sharifi, a senior judiciary official, was quoted by state TV as alleging that Ashtiani had given her husband an injection that left him unconscious, then the man attached electrical devices to his neck and killed him.

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