Monday, December 27, 2004

Dateline: Iran

Some highlights...

Stoning of adulterous woman put on hold

Iranian authorities have temporarily stayed the execution by stoning of a woman convicted of adultery while her case is studied by the judiciary pardons commission, the press reported Thursday.

Hajieh Esmailvand, whose plight has been taken up by rights group Amnesty International, was originally sentenced by a court in the northwestern town of Jolfa to be flogged 100 times, jailed for five years and then hanged.

According to the press report, her lover, identified only as Ruhollah G., who was 17 years old at the time of the affair, has been sentenced to hang and is still awaiting execution.

In its report, reformist daily Tosseh said the two had murdered Esmailvand's husband in 2000.

The Supreme Court later changed Esmailvand's sentence to stoning because of the adultery, as is permitted under Islamic law.

But an unnamed judiciary official said the "stoning has been stayed pending a decision by the pardons commission."

There was no indication of when that might be expected.

Right group Amnesty International has called on its members to appeal to the Iranian authorities for the stoning to be stopped.

According to Amnesty, Iran's penal code is very specific about the manner of execution and types of stones that should be used.

It states that men should be buried up to their waists and women up to their breasts for the purpose of execution by stoning. However, those who manage to free themselves are spared.

It also says, with reference to the penalty for adultery, that the stones used should "not be large enough to kill the person by one or two strikes, nor should they be so small that they could not be defined as stones."

Murder, armed robbery, rape, apostasy and serious drug trafficking are also punishable by hanging in Iran.