'Toxic propaganda': Iranian widow sentenced to death by stoning for adultery is filmed 'confessing' on state television about husband's murder
12th August 2010
An Iranian woman whose sentencing to death by stoning has sparked international outrage has apparently 'confessed' to adultery in a state television interview.
In the interview, aired last night, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani criticised her lawyer for publicising the case, saying it had brought shame on her family.
Human rights campaign group, the International Committee Against Stoning, called the TV show 'toxic propaganda'.
'Confession': Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who faces the death penalty for stoning, is said to have admitted adultery on state television
With her face blurred in the telecast and her words voiced over for translation into Farsi from a local dialect, it is not possible to independently verify the woman's identity.
In it, she describes 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.
Condemned: Miss Ashtiani, a mother-of-two, received 99 lashes for 'illicit relations with men', but was also then convicted of adultery
'I thought he was joking. 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 show that Miss Ashtiani had injected anaesthetic into her husband.
'After the husband was unconscious, the real murderer killed the victim by connecting electricity to his neck,' he said.
Miss Ashtiani, a mother-of-two, has previously denied adultery accusations against her.
She received 99 lashes for having an illicit relationship with two men, but was then convicted of adultery.
The stoning sentence has been suspended pending a judicial review but could still be carried out, a judiciary official said.
Murder, adultery, rape, armed robbery, apostasy and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Iran's sharia law, enforced since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Her lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, said Miss Ashtiani was probably pressured into making her statements.
'Her life is in the hands of the people who have power in Iran, and whatever they want, they can achieve. It is a normal thing for Iranian TV to say lies,' he said in Norway.
He said the authorities might either now release Ashtiani in a show of magnanimity or 'misuse her statements to justify her execution'.
Mr Mostafaei said earlier that Iranian authorities had issued a warrant for his arrest and held his wife in jail for two weeks in an attempt to get him to return to Iran.
In the TV interview, Miss Ashtiani said she would lodge a complaint against Mostafaei.
'Why did you publicise my case? Why did you harm my reputation and dignity?
'Not all of my relatives and family members knew that I am prison. Why did you do this to me?'
Mr Mostafaei said he had no regrets about going public because without international scrutiny Miss Ashtiani and other people facing death sentences would have even less of a chance.
'Sakineh is a very poor woman who needs human help, not political steering,' he said.
The TV show's host said Western media had given the case so much publicity in the hope of pressuring Iran to release three Americans who have been in prison for more than a year after being arrested near the Iraqi border where, their families say they were hiking.
According to human rights group Amnesty International, Iran is second only to China in the number of people it executes. It put to death at least 346 people in 2008.