Iran to broadcast new state TV footage of woman sentenced to death
Iran to broadcast new state TV footage of woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery
TEHRAN, Iran - Iran's state TV said Friday it will air new footage of an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery,
the latest in state-orchestrated broadcasts on a case that has raised an international outcry.
The footage, to be aired late Friday on English-language Press TV, will show Sakineh Mohammedi Ashtiani at her home in northwestern Iran
giving a reenactment of the murder of her husband,
for which she has also been convicted, according to the station.
The broadcast is an apparent attempt to deflect international criticism over the adultery sentence by bolstering Iran's claim that Ashtiani is a murderer.
But there has been considerable murkiness over the charge. Authorities announced her murder conviction only after the uproar over the stoning sentence erupted last summer,
and her lawyer — who has since been arrested — said she was never formally put on trial for the killing and was tortured into confessing.
Iranian authorities could use the murder conviction, which is punishable by death, to justify executing Ashtiani — though by hanging not stoning.
Officials have not announced whether Ashtiani was sentenced on the charge.
Iran has waged a heavy public campaign aimed at countering international criticism, accusing the West of stirring up controversy to damage the country's Islamic clerical leadership.
Authorities have detained two German journalists who tried to interview Ashtiani's family, and Ashtiani has been shown several times on state TV, including one time to confess to the killing.
In the new footage, the 43-year-old mother of two was brought to her home outside the city of Tabriz to "produce a visual recount of the crime at the murder scene," Press TV reported.
It appeared that Ashtiani's face would be shown for the first time in the footage. In previous video of her aired on state TV, her face was blurred,
but Press TV released still photos taken from the latest video showing her face, wearing a scarf over her hair,
as she stands in various rooms of her home and in one photo appears to wipe tears from her eyes.
The only previous image of her face was an undated picture released by Western human rights groups that seems to be an ID photo, showing a younger-looking Ashtiani with a black headscarf.
In the footage, she is accompanied by her son, Sajjad Qaderzadeh, who was arrested in October along with her lawyer Houtan Kian and the two German journalists.
Kian had been vocally critical of the case, saying that Ashtiani was tortured into making her televised confessing and that she had never been formally tried for murder,
suggesting the murder conviction was added later after the controversy erupted.
Ashtiani was convicted in 2006 of having an "illicit relationship" with two men after the murder of her husband the year before and was sentenced at that time to 99 lashes.
Later that year, she was also convicted of adultery and sentenced to be stoned, even though she retracted a confession that she says was made under duress.
After coming under intense demands from Western politicians and rights groups to free Ashtiani, Iran in July put her stoning sentence for adultery on hold for review by the supreme court.
It wasn't until more than a month later that her confession to murder was aired and Iranian officials announced she had been convicted.
In the televised confession, a woman identified as Ashtiani said she was an unwitting accomplice in her husband's murder.
Her face was blurred and she spoke in Azeri Turkish, translated into Farsi by a woman off screen. Azeri is spoken in parts of Iran.
"I established telephone contacts with a man in 2005," she said.
"He deceived me by his language. ... He told me, 'Let's kill your husband.' I could not believe at all that my husband would be killed.
I thought he was joking. ... Later I learned that killing was his profession."
She said the man, whom she did not identify, brought electrical devices, wire and gloves to her house and electrocuted her husband while she watched.
Malek Ajdar Sharifi, a senior judiciary official, was quoted by state TV as alleging that Ashtiani had given her husband an injection that left him unconscious,
then the man attached electrical devices to his neck and killed him.
Since their arrests, her son Qaderzadeh and lawyer Kian have also been shown on TV reversing past criticism of the case.
In footage aired last month, Ashtiani called herself a "sinner," and Qaderzadeh retracted allegations that his mother was tortured.
He also criticized Kian and Ashtiani's previous lawyer — who fled to Norway this summer — for publicizing the case.
Kian also said in the footage that he advised Qaderzadeh to lie to Western journalists.