Iranian sentenced to stoning 'confesses' on state TV
Published 13/08/2010 | 05:00
AN Iranian woman whose sentencing to death by stoning has sparked international outrage, has apparently confessed to adultery and talked about her husband's killing in a state television interview.
In the interview, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani -- whose sentence was reduced to 99 lashes -- also criticised her lawyer for publicising her case, saying it had brought shame on her family.
A human rights campaign group, the International Committee Against Stoning, called the TV show "toxic propaganda". Ms Ashtiani had previously denied the adultery accusations against her.
International media attention given to the case has highlighted Iran's high number of executions and may have spared Ashtiani from being stoned to death, according to her lawyer, who has fled to Europe.
With her face blurred in the telecast, it was not immediately possible to independently verify the woman's identity.
Ms Ashtiani described how she had struck up a relationship with her husband's cousin.
"He told me: 'Let's kill your husband'. I totally could not believe that my husband would be killed. I thought he was joking," she said. "Later, I found out that killing was his profession.
"He came (to our house) and brought all the stuff. He brought electrical devices, plus wire and gloves. Later, he killed my husband by connecting him to the electricity," she said.
The head of the judiciary of Iran's East Azerbaijan province told the television show that Ms Ashtiani had injected an anaesthetic into her husband. "After the husband went unconscious, the real murderer killed the victim by connecting electricity to his neck," he said.
Ms Ashtiani, a mother of two, has received 99 lashes for having an illicit relationship with two men. The stoning sentence has been suspended pending a judicial review but could still be carried out, an Iranian judiciary official has said.
Her lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, said that Ms Ashtiani, who was convicted of "adultery while being married", was probably pressured into making her statements.
"Her life is in the hands of the people who have power in Iran," he said. He said the authorities might either now release Ms Ashtiani or "misuse her statements to justify her execution".