Head of Judiciary’s Recommendation for Stoning Clemency Rejected

Translated by: Shabnam Ghafourian

BBC - The recommendation of Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, head of Iran’s judiciary, to grant amnesty to a woman sentenced to stoning was rejected by the Judicial Commission for Amnesty and Clemency. The Commission decided that the sentence should be implemented.

Ashraf Kalhor, who has been in Tehran’s Evin Prison since 2001, was convicted of adultery and accessory to murder, and sentenced to stoning and 15 years imprisonment the following year.

Her lawyer, Shadi Sadr, told BBC Persian Service that Ms. Kalhor had been serving her time in prison until last May, when the judicial office responsible for implementing sentences ordered her stoning to be executed. In response, according to Ms. Sadr, women’s rights and human rights activists filed a request to the head of the judiciary for her amnesty. After reviewing the case, Ayatollah Shahroudi recommended that she be given clemency for her stoning sentence.

In light of his recommendation, it was assumed that her stoning sentence had been cancelled, explained Ms. Sadr. However, two years later, the Judicial Commission for Amnesty and Clemency declared that Ms. Ashraf’s stoning sentence should be implemented.

Ms. Sadr expressed concern about the possibility of her client’s imminent stoning and pointed to a recent stoning that had taken place in northern Iran. Alireza Jamshidi, spokesperson for the judiciary, had announced last summer that no stoning executions would take place. Although in recent years, the number of stoning executions in Iran has decreased, some judges still issue the sentence for cases of rape and adultery committed by a married woman.

According to the current Islamic penal code, adulterous relations can be proved with the testimony of four just witnesses or with the confession, repeated four times, of the accused.

One of the most recent cases, the stoning of a man in Takistan, Ghazvin in May 2007, was met with great international protest. The stoning was carried out, despite an order by the head of the judiciary to stay the execution. UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights called for an end to stonings in Iran, calling such punishment cruel, inhuman and degrading and a clear violation of international human rights agreements.

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