No change in Ashtiani case, says Iranian judiciary

Monday, January 17, 2011

TEHRAN - The Iranian judiciary Monday said there have been no changes in the case of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani and denied that her death sentence was suspended, official news agency IRNA reported.

In a letter from parliament’s human rights committee head Zohreh Elahian to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, reported earlier Monday by ISNA news agency, she said that because of a plea by Ashtiani’s two children, the death sentence had been suspended.

Prosecutor general Gholam-Hossein Mohsen-Ejehi, however, denied Elahian’s claims and said there have been no changes in the case of Ashtiani who is jailed in Tabriz, the capital of Azerbaijan province in northwestern Iran.

Malek Ejdar-Sharifi, the head of the judiciary office of Azerbaijan, also said the lawmaker’s claim was false.

There were doubts from the beginning about why the announcement came from a parliamentary deputy and not the judiciary, and why the letter was not written by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to his Brazilian counterpart.

Ashtiani, 43, was originally found guilty of adultery in 2006 and sentenced to death by stoning, in line with Islamic laws, by a court in Azerbaijan.

After a storm of international protests, Iran tried to play down the stoning sentence by saying that the main charge against the woman was her role in helping her lover kill her husband.

According to the judiciary in Azerbaijan, her file was going through the revision process and a final verdict would be handed down after approval by the judiciary headquarters in Tehran.

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