Iran media airs 'murder confession'

State television shows fourth interview with woman whose sentence to death for adultery has sparked global outrage.


    The broadcast showed a 'reconstruction' of the alleged murder [AFP] 

    Iranian state television has broadcast an interview with Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the woman whose sentence to death by stoning for adultery has prompted a global outcry, in which she confesses to helping a man kill her husband and re-enacts the alleged murder.

    The interview, shown on Friday, is the fourth time that Ashtiani has been shown on Iranian television, moves that critics see as Tehran trying to deflect international censure over the case.

    Dressed in black with a beige scarf covering her hair, Ashtiani described how she began an affair with another man identified as Isa Taheri.

    She said she gave her husband an injection that rendered him unconscious, then Taheri came to her house and electrocuted him.

    In the new footage broadcast on English-language Press TV, Ashtiani was brought from prison to her home outside the city of Tabriz in northwestern Iran.

    She was shown acting out the alleged December 2005 killing with an actor portraying her husband.

    Broadcast criticised

    A day earlier photographs from the broadcast, apparently showing her at home with her son, appeared in the media and a German campaign group claimed erroneously that she had been released.

    Amnesty International criticised the broadcast before it went on air, saying it would violate international standards for a fair trial by having Ashtiani implicate herself in a crime.

    "If the authorities are seeking to use this 'confession' to try to construct a new case against her, for a crime that she's already been tried and sentenced for, we would condemn this in the strongest terms," Philip Luther, the deputy director of Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa programme, said in a statement.

    The re-enactment was part of a half-hour news programme about the case, which included interviews with Sajjad Qaderzadeh, Ashtiani's son, and Houtan Kian, her lawyer who was arrested after he said Ashtiani had been tortured to extract a confession.

    International outcry

    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.

     Photographs of Ashtiani at home sparked rumours
    that she had been released [AFP]

    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.

    Following a global uproar over the case and demands from Western politicians and rights groups to free the mother of two, Iran put Ashtiani's stoning sentence on hold in July for review by the supreme court.

    Later Iranian authorities announced that Ashtiani had been convicted of murder.

    Iranian authorities could use the murder conviction, which in Iran is punishable by death, to justify executing Ashtiani, though by hanging rather than stoning.

    But officials have not announced whether Ashtiani has been sentenced for the murder.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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