Friday, January 18, 2008

Iran Report: Stonning Reprieve


A couple due to be stoned to death today for adultery are thought to have had a last-minute reprieve.

A campaign had been mounted to save the Iranian pair who have already served 11 years in jail.

And last night an official in Takestan, the town where the couple were sentenced to die, said they would be spared.

Norway's foreign ministry, which has protested against the execution and threatened diplomatic action, also said it had been called off.

Amnesty International had urged the head of Iran's judiciary, Ayatollah Shahroudi, to intervene.

Mokarrameh Ebrahimi, 43, and her unnamed boyfriend were jailed in Qazvin province following the birth of their son.

Their case was raised by Stop Stoning Forever, an Iranian women's group.

A spokesman said the couple were living together when they were first detained.

"There are different rumours about her past," she added.

"Some say that her husband had thrown her out of the house and she had been living with her mother for two years.

"Both the man and the woman had children from their previous marriages.

"Mokarremeh is very distressed and in severe disarray in prison."

Amnesty's Steve Ballinger said: "We understand the pits have been dug in readiness for the execution.

"We have heard reports that there has been a stay of execution but we haven't heard anything official."

The executions were given the goahead after judges rejected a late plea for clemency.

Under Iranian law, adultery can be proved only by eyewitness testimony, a confession by the defendant or by the judge's "knowledge" that adultery has taken place.

In this case, the conviction was grounded on the judge's "knowledge" that the couple had had a child together.

An Iranian couple are thought to have been stoned to death in Mashhad last year for adultery.source

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