TV airs Iran woman's confession

Ashtiani acts out her role in husbands murder


‘MEA CULPA’: A photo grab from the Iranian state-run Press TV shows Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani speaking during an interview with the channel in the city of Tabriz in northwestern Iran. AFP

State-run English language Press TV said its half-hour film was meant to show the other side of a story that has been misrepresented by international media, but it may prompt yet more questions about human rights and press freedom in Iran.

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s sentence to be stoned for adultery—the only crime that carries that penalty under Iran’s Islamic sharia law—was declared to have been suspended in September after an international outcry.

Rumours that she had been released spread around the Internet on Thursday after human rights campaigners in Europe apparently misinterpreted photographs released ahead of the broadcast, showing Ashtiani at her home where the crime scene reconstruction was filmed, as indicating she was free.

In the film, Ashtiani acts out her alleged role in the murder of her husband in a reconstruction filmed in black-and-white in a shaky hand-held camera style, accompanied by dramatic music. It is not clear why she had agreed to take part in the film. She is shown injecting her husband with a sedative before an actor playing her lover arrives to attach wires to his feet and neck and plug them into an electrical socket.

The reconstruction is interspersed with actual photographs of the dead man, Ibrahim Abedzadeh. The murder happened in 2005.

Iran says international media have manipulated the story to demonise the Islamic Republic.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has publicly denied that Ashtiani was ever sentenced to stoning. The programme’s narrator said the stoning sentence handed down by Iran’s Supreme Court in 2006 was “symbolic” and unlikely ever to be carried out, due to a legal change in 2005 that aimed to ban stoning but “has yet to be fully integrated into official Iranian law.”

The documentary makers say they tracked down Ashtiani’s lover and secretly filmed him. But the report does not say whether Isa Taheri, who was tried for murder along with Ashtiani, was convicted nor why he is apparently free when she is in jail. Ashtiani recounts how Taheri planned the murder. “He said tomorrow I want to kill your husband. I asked: ‘how?’. He said: ‘You inject him with a drug and make him unconscious then I’ll come and electrocute him.’”

Man faces ‘eye-for-an-eye’ justice

Iran’s supreme court has upheld a sentence of blinding with acid for a man who blinded his lover’s husband, under the Islamic “eye-for-an-eye” justice code, a government daily said on Saturday. The convict, Mojtaba, threw acid in the face of Alireza, a taxi-driver in Qom, after an “illicit affair” with the victim’s wife, Mojdeh. The court has upheld a lower court ruling that Mojtaba be blinded with drops of acid.

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