New Documents from Tabriz and Tehran Courts on Sakineh Ashtaiani’s Case


PR No. 37, August 7, 2010

Also following: Open Letter by Houtan Kia, one of Sakineh’s Lawyers, to Human Rights Authorities

It was three ago that I was acquainted with Sakineh Ashtian’s case, and the likelihood of her stoning sentence being carried out, through her children’s telephone call to me at International Committee Against Stoning (ICAS). Sakineh had then been sentenced to stoning by the Province Court of Tabriz (capital city of Eastern Azerbaijan) for ‘adultery’. The sentence had subsequently been confirmed by the Supreme Court in Tehran. At this point her children had decided to resort to ICAS, determined to save their mother’s life.

The ICAS took prompt action, informing the public about the situation through a series of Statements, as well as organizing several practical measures.

On July 6, 2010, when all legal ways and efforts had been exhausted, and Sakineh’s letters of appeal for clemency to the authorities of the Islamist regime, including Khamenei himself, had fallen on deaf ears, her children wrote a letter addressed to the world to save their mother. It was immediately released by ICAS, first in the original Farsi and the day after in English, based on which it was later translated by the people around the world into 17 languages.

As a result of the international furor against her conviction during the past month, Sakineh’s fate has turned into the subject of deep concern and proactive protest of millions of people around the world. Also, their eyes have turned towards the prisons of the Islamist regime, its barbaric judicial philosophy, process of interpretation and application of its laws, and its procedural law. Further, Sakineh’s fate and the international campaign to save her life have provided the people of the world with a vintage point from which to see the true nature of a whole system of sexual apartheid built up by a regime of terrorist, misogynistic murderers.

Now, under powerful international pressure, the regime has resorted to trumping up charges against Sakineh, accusing her of murdering her husband. But the truth is that, according to the documents of the regime’s own courts, it is evident that there is no charge of murder in this case! ‘Brach 12 of Tabriz Province Court… has no records of having ever charged Sakineh with murder’, writes Sakineh’s lawyer, Houtan Kian (see below his letter). The regime is lying simply to make Sakineh appear a murderer in the eyes of the world in an effort to lessen the challenging global pressure it is confronted with.

We publicized the documents we had in our possession at a press conference in London on June 30th. We are now in receipt of other documents that show more clearly than ever that the regime is trumping up the murder charge and that its intention to execute her is utterly political. We shall soon make these documents public too. Meanwhile, in order to prepare to frustrate the regime’s savage habit of churning out charges against people, especially women, we requested Houtan Kian to expound on the matter. In reply to our request he wrote an open letter – mailed to, and immediately released by us – to human rights authorities and organizations worlswide. In his letter Houtan Kian has elaborated on the general layout of the case. The complete translation of the letter is attached to the end of this PR.

The substance of Houtan Kian’s open letter is as follows:

Cases involving sex out of wedlock (SOW) and those involving murder are tried at, and/or confirmed by, two different divisions (branches) of criminal-law courts in Iran. Murder is tried by Division 12 of the Province Court and SOW at Division 6. If a case involves both, it is also tried at Div. 12. Sakineh Ashtiaani’s case was tried at Div. 6, and the case involving her husband’s murder at Div. 12. If she had been charged on both accounts, she would have been tried at Div. 12. But, according to Houtan Kian, Div. 12 of Tabriz Province Court has no records of having charged Sakineh Ashtiaani with murder. At Div. 12, where the case of the murder of Ebrahim Ghaderzaadeh (Ashtiaani’s husband) was tried, a certain Isa T. confessed to the murder and was, accordingly, sentenced to death. But he was not executed, for Sakineh’s children, now in a position to determine whether the blood of the person who shed their father’s blood should be shed – according to the Islamic tribal law of ‘a tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye’ – forgave the killer , and he was freed a short while after. Sakine, on the other hand, was convicted of adultery. But not for ‘adultery of a married woman’ (zenna-e-mohseneh) as the Islamic Sharia Law distinguishes the two, and punishes only the latter by stoning. For her SOW conviction Sakineh received a sentence of 99 lashes and 10 years’ imprisonment – for ‘disturbing the social peace’ (!) – by Div.6 at Tabriz Province Court. Thus both cases were officially declared ‘closed’. Sakineh’s sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court in Tehran, and subsequently carried out.

However, for some peculiar, unknown reason, or as Sajjad, Sakineh’s son’s, writes in his letter, ‘but I do not know what happened, and’ the same Div. 6 of the Province Court in Tabriz reopened the case ‘in relation to the murder case’ (Mohammad Mostafai, the other Sakineh’s lawyer, in his public statement of 26 June, 2010). Yet, as Mostafai continues, ‘The judges of Div. 6 this time brought the charge of zenna-e-mohseneh against my client, convicted and sentenced her to stoning without producing clear reasons proving her guilt according to Article 83 and the following articles of the Islamic Code of Punishment…and only on the basis of the knowledge of the judge (my underline). This occurred despite the following circumstance…: 1- trying Sakineh for the second time, while the previous conviction has not been rescinded, [i.e. trying her twice for the same charge] was, and is, devoid of any legal value; 2- Two judges of Div. 6 of the Province Criminal Court …were convinced of Sakineh’s innocence and clearly stated in their verdict that “there are neither any doctrinal nor any legal reasons positively proving zenna-e-mohseneh in the case of the accused. Nor are the existing evidence and signs in this case among the common ways of achieving knowledge.”’ The stoning sentence was also confirmed by the Supreme Court in Tehran. That was the point at which Sakineh’s children, Sajjad and Faride, contacted ICAS three years ago by the telephone. Thus for four years Sakineh has been living with the horror of being stoned to death for a totally baseless conviction issued illegally even according to the tribal Islamic judicial system and its savage, misogynistic code of punishment of the regime itself.

Now, under the recent international pressure to save and free Sakineh, the regime has been pushed back one step from the position of wanting to stone her to the position of intending to execute her by hanging for the charge of murdering her husband. This is what Nowbakht, the Deputy Prosecutor of Tabriz, demanded in his indictment of mid-July 2010. However, ‘Mostafai has issued a statement saying that Sakineh has been acquitted of murdering her husband, and the execution by hanging has not been mentioned in her final official sentence’ (The Guardian, Thursday, 22 July 2010). This indictment is presently under consideration by the Supreme Court in Tehran. The regime officially announced on July 20th that a final verdict in Sakineh Ashtiaani’s case would be handed down ‘in 21 days’, that is, on August 12th.

As can be seen easily in the mirror of Sakineh’s case, the crux of the matter is that the so-called courts of the Islamist regime in Iran are light years removed from the most basic principles and standards of humanity, impartiality and independence. The truth is that the regime’s judiciary system is, above all, a horrifying apparatus in the hands of the state for the purpose of producing rubber-stamped verdicts fitting the day-to-day political, terroristic needs of the latter. That is why instigation, creating all sorts of political atmospheres, and the use of torture for extraction of confessions are part and parcel of this so-called judicial system. But, again, what else can one expect from a regime of sheer terror using all the fitting means of instilling terror – everything from stoning, amputation of limbs and torture to flogging men and women for their hair and dressing style to levying heavy fines in the case of women for having nail polish or putting their sunglasses up on their foreheads or tucking their pants into their boots? Not only this nightmarish, tribal, misogynistic judicial system but also this whole regime of terror must be wiped from the face of the Iranian society and, indeed, as an international menace, from the face of the world.

We must save Sakineh from the ruling murderous regime in Iran. Only the united civilized humanity can do it. And there is only way to do it: intensifying the current international pressure on the regime through stronger protests.

Mina Ahadi
Spokesperson
International Campaign Against Stoning (http://stopstonningnow.com) and
International campaign Against Execution (http://stopstonningnow.com)
Tel: 0049 (0) 1775692413

Attachment (Not translated by ICAS):
Houtan Kian’s Open Letter:
Respectable authorities defending human rights

Ahuraian greetings.

At the outset, I must explain that all the cases I (Houtan Kian-Senior Attorney at Law) handle, since the day I started my profession as an attorney, given my area of specialty on crimes such as murder, adultery, homosexuality, political, illicit drugs, …meaning crimes in which according to the laws of the Islamic Republic are punishable by execution in various forms. I have represented my client, Ms. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, since 1387 (Note last year)

The cases involve murder and adultery which are two different things based on which court handles each, assuming my client was also involved in the murder case.

If murder was proven, my client would have been executed and there would have been no need to stone her to death (Note the punishment for adultery under Islamic Penal Code). Based on Islamic Penal Code, the punishments for murder and adultery should have been combined in one case and sentence and handled by Brach 12 of the Tabriz Province Court. Whereas this was not the case. The branch has no records of sentencing my client to murder

Regarding the accusation of murder in the same branch regarding Mr. x who has been convicted of murder and proven that he committed murder. He admitted to murder in the branch. Later when the deceased Ebrahim Ghaderzadeh’s (Ashtiani’s husband) family was interviewed as to whether they sought retribution for the crime committed by Mr. x (murder), the family agreed unanimously to forego his blood and the convict is now freed as a result. The incident regarding Mr. Ghaderzadeh’s death happened in a bath as a result of electrocution. The convict admitted in the branch that he administered the electrifying of Mr. Ghaderzadeh himself with his own hands three times and each time the deceased received electrical shock.

The conviction of Ms. Sakineh Ashtiani in Branch 6 of the East Azerbaijan Province Court for adultery was wrong in the process by which it was handled. It completely violated the spirit of the laws of the Islamic Republic. It was only in the Supreme Court that the case was endorsed on the basis of Islamic Sharia law. That is wrong in every way. In my defense of the case before the Supreme Court of the country, I say the same thing. Now although the application of stoning has been temporarily halted, the case remains open for handling and application of stoning in Tabriz province.

The current process of the case, based on my request for due process, has now been sent by the respected judge of the Supreme Court to Ms. Farshchi for due process application and for review. Based on her order, it is registered in the computer by the number of —-, dated —and has circulated in the secretariat of the Supreme Court and sent to branch 9 of the Supreme Court on date of —-under the registration number —-.There it is about to be examined. Meanwhile, based on evidence of the case that is now on file with registration number —-, an implementation remains in order in the Tabriz Court regrettably through Mr. Hossein Nobakht, the assistant to the prosecutor of Tabriz on implementation of case affairs. And as such cases are handled, the request to change Ms. Ashtiani’s stoning to execution has been made by the head of the judiciary of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Chief Prosecutor of the country.

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