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Adulterers Stoned to Death in Islamic Republic (Iran)

By Thomas Erdbrink
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, January 13, 2009; 4:44 PM

TEHRAN, Jan. 13 -- Two men convicted of adultery in the northeastern city of Mashhad were stoned to death in December, but a third convicted man escaped while the punishment was being carried out, a spokesman for Iran's judiciary said Tuesday.

Ali Reza Jamshidi also said that a moratorium on the controversial punishment, announced in 2002 by judiciary head Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, was an advisory rather than an edict.

"Judges can't act based simply on advisories by the head of the judiciary, since judges are independent," he said, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency.

The European Union, the United Nations and human rights advocates inside and outside Iran have decried stoning, which is enshrined in the country's Islamic legal code as a punishment for homosexuality and adultery. Condemned men are buried in sand up to their waists, and women up to their necks, and are pelted with stones until they die or manage to escape. Under the law, a condemned person's life is spared if he can free himself.

Shahroudi's comments in 2002 had suggested that Iran was moving away from the practice. Since then, however, five people have been stoned after local judges issued the sentence, human rights groups in Iran say. It is not known how many people were stoned before the moratorium was announced. ad_icon

In August last year, the judiciary said that the lives of four people sentenced to stoning had been spared and that the implementation of other sentences had been halted pending a review of the cases. Ten people, including eight women, are currently awaiting stoning, according to human rights activists.

"There was a very clear promise that there would be no more stonings," said Asieh Amini, an independent journalist who specializes in human rights cases. "Today, the spokesperson says that judges can act independently and that punishments were carried out since then. This shows that even the word of the highest judicial authorities don't carry any weight."

Jamshidi, the spokesman, said the judiciary is awaiting passage of a new law in which "some circumstances for the stoning punishment have been foreseen." He did not give a time frame. The bill does not call for the abolition of stoning, he said, but specifies that the punishment not be carried out if it insults the image of Islam.

Amini said the proposed legislation does nothing to prevent stoning, since it would be unclear who will decide whether a particular sentence reflects badly on Islam. "These stoning verdicts are an insult to Islam, anyway," Amini said.

Jamshidi said that the December stonings in Mashhad were carried out on two men who had been convicted of having relationships with married women. "The third man managed to escape from the pit," he said, adding that the man had also been convicted of adultery. He gave no further information on the man's fate.

On Monday, Shahroudi personally blocked the stoning of two married women, saying that video footage of them having sex with two men other than their husbands was inconclusive, the Ettemaad newspaper, which is critical of the government, reported Tuesday. Iran's Supreme Court had earlier upheld the sentence.

During his weekly news conference, the judicial spokesman also said that Esha Momeni, an Iranian American student at California State University at Northridge who was detained in October, will not be allowed to leave the country for at least another month, saying "a new issue has turned up in her case." He did not specify the issue.

Momeni was arrested after conducting video interviews with activists for her masters' thesis on women's rights. Iranian authorities accused her of "propagating against the system." She was released in November after paying $200,000 bail but was not allowed to leave Iran.

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Islamic Republic (Iran) judiciary confirms men stoned to death for adultery

13-01-2009, 09:06 TEHRAN, (AFP)

TEHRAN (AFP) Iran's judiciary on Tuesday confirmed that two men had been stoned to death for adultery in the northeastern city of Mashhad while a third struggled from the stoning hole and escaped with his life.

"As you saw in reports, there were three stonings carried out in Mashhad. They were convicted of adultery, that is an affair with a married woman," judiciary spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi told reporters.

He said two of the men died in the executions carried out "about 20 days ago" while the third was spared after he managed to extricate himself from the stoning hole.

Under Iran's Islamic law, adultery is still theoretically punishable by stoning, which involves the public hurling stones at the convict buried up to his waist. A woman is buried up to her shoulders.

The convict is spared if he can free himself.

Despite a 2002 directive by the judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi imposing a moratorium on such executions, five Iranians have reportedly been stoned to death in the past four years.

Jamshidi, commenting on the courts ordering stoning sentences, said "judges are independent and they are likely not to act to the judiciary chief's advice" as long as law remains unchanged.

Quoting rights activists, the reformist Etemad Melli newspaper said on Sunday that three men had been stoned between December 21 and 26 in Behesht Reza cemetery in Mashhad.

It identified one of the men as Houshang Kh. and the survivor as an Afghan national named Mahmoud.

In August, the judiciary said it had scrapped the punishment in Iran's new Islamic penal code, whose outlines have been adopted by parliament but whose details are yet to be debated by MPs before final approval.

It said several stoning sentences have been suspended and commuted to either lashes or jail terms.

However, in July 2007 the Islamic republic drew international outrage by stoning to death JafarKiani, a man convicted of adultery, in a village in the northwest of Iran.

Eight women and two men are currently under sentence of death by stoning in Iranian prisons, Etemad Melli said quoting rights activists, while the sentence has been commuted for four other women

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Islamic Republic (Iran) executes two men by stoning

13-01-2009, 09:06 TEHRAN, (BBC News)

Two men convicted of adultery have been stoned to death in Iran, a rare punishment that the Iranian judiciary says it is trying to have scrapped.

The stoning took place in Mashhad in December, said judiciary spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi confirming press reports.

In stonings, men are buried to the waist and stones are hurled until they die. Women are buried to the shoulders.

A third man, an Afghan national, managed to dig himself out of the hole, and therefore escaped execution.

In 2002, Iran's judiciary chief issued a directive imposing a moratorium on execution by stoning and it has been scrapped in the new draft penal code which has yet to be passed into law.

Several stoning sentences are said to have been suspended or commuted, and the last reported execution by stoning was in July 2007.

International and local human rights groups have long campaigned for a ban on stoning in Iran as a "grotesque" punishment which is designed increase the suffering of the condemned.

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    Executions by hanging are carried out in Islamic Republic of ayatollahs in accordance with the Islamic "eye-for-an-eye" law of retribution, otherwise known as "qesas".

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