URGENT: Two Sisters Sentenced to be Stoned to Death

Zohreh and Azar are two young sisters from Khademabad, near Karaj, Iran. Both were arrested on February 5, 2007 due to allegations of adultery given by Sohreh’s husband.

One month later, they were prosecuted in court, found guilty, and sentenced to 99 lashes. However, due to reasons unknown, both were returned to prison. Six months later, another prosecution took place for the same crime. This time, they were sentenced to death by stoning. The Supreme Court of Iran has confirmed this verdict.

Both Zohreh Kabiri, 27 years old and Azar Kabiri, 28 years old, have been sentenced to stoning for adultery.

Their sentence is awaiting execution. On a snowy day last month, attorney Jabar Solati met with the two women and became their counsel in the hopes of saving their lives from stoning. The attorney’s effort not only excited the two clients, but their fellow inmates as well.

Jabar Solati accepted to be these women’s lawyer because, as he says, he has strong hope to save their lives.

Jabar Solati signed on to the case at a time when his clients’ verdicts were confirmed by the Supreme Court and were sent to the department for executions. With help from prison authorities, Mr. Solaty discovered that grave inaccuracies and mistakes in his clients’ files. Mr. Solati has asked for more time to explain the matter to the prosecutor, and requested approval from the prosecutor’s first deputy to temporarily stop the executions.

According to Mr. Solati’s statements, the stoning sentences resulted from allegations by Zohreh’s husband and a document that he had submitted to the court. The primary piece of evidence consisted of video footage that was taken by a secret camera hidden in an air duct.

The initial verdict given by Branch 128 court in Karaj on 16th of March 2007 sentenced the women to 99 lashes. This verdict was confirmed and later executed.

But for unknown reasons, the two women were kept in prison detention and in less than six months, were issued to court for a second time.

In fact, the second court tried the two sisters for a crime for which they were already prosecuted. Their previous sentence of 99 lashes has also already been carried out. Double-jeopardy is illegal in Iran. Despite this, however, the two women were sentenced to stoning on the 5th of August 2007 for the crime of adultery. Mr. Solati is protesting this verdict and sentence. According to him, the verdict of the initial court is absolute and has been executed, therefore the verdict of the second court, according to law, is not acceptable.

Mr Solati is also protesting the fact that he first trial was held without a defense attorney present. In that session the two women were charged and convicted without being issued a lawyer for their defense.

In the absence of a defense attorney, the Judge interrogated the two sisters and unlawfully obtained a dubious confession for adultery. The women have reported that questions asked of them were manipulative and ambiguous. They had no idea as to the full consequences of their responses.

The Judge used these illegal confession and statements, along with his ‘instinct’ or ‘knowledge’ in order to justify a sentence of stoning for each defendant.

The trial’s second session occurred with a defense lawyer present. Unfortunately, this particular lawyer did not protest the unlawful confession of the first session and did not defend his clients properly.

Mr. Solati is currently representing the two sisters and hopes to save their lives. He is trying to stop these two sisters’ stoning verdict based on the fact that there was only one accused crime and that its sentence has already been executed.

According to his statement, if there were indeed two crimes committed, there must be two separate trials with two separate indictments and processes.

According to Mr. Solati, the judge of the second trial did not notice the mistake in the case examination process. Mr. Solati is optimistic that the stoning sentence will be halted completely once the persecutor acknowledges these facts.

Zohreh and Azar are both mothers; each has one child.

According to Mehr news agency, Alireza Jamshidi, the Judiciary system spokesman, during his weekly press conference on the 15th of January 2008, gave the following statement concerning the stoning verdicts in Iran: “It is unfortunately that these unreal and tendentious reports were given to the UN and human rights organizations. They are absolutely false.”

Translated from Farsi by Leila Mouri and Rochelle Terman

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