WAGs: not a laughing matter in Iran

I must confess I never got to see the sensational ITV series Footballers’ Wives and therefore I missed out on the story of “ordinary women, struggling to keep their marriages intact while their husbands dazzle the crowds on the pitch”. I understand it had its tacky moments.

Meanwhile, though I know WAG-bashing has become a big thing in the UK media (especially after the legendary shopping sprees in Baden Baden during the 2006 World Cup), it’s not something I personally indulge in. For a start I don’t know who most of them are (Coleen Beckham, didn’t she used to be in Girls Aloud or something?) and the footballers themselves …haven’t a clue. Niluccio – be ashamed.

Altogether more seriously though, I have been following the case of a footballer’s wife in Iran who – shockingly, depressingly – has just been executed for murder.  Although the people involved are unusual and could almost have stepped out of the Iranian equivalent of Footballers’ Wives, the basic legal story is an all-too-familiar one in Iran.

Shahla Jahad was convicted of murdering the wife of Naser Mohammadkhani, a star footballer in Iran in the 1980s. Shahla was Mohammadkhani’s “temporary” wife (special provisions exist in Iranian law), and the prosecution maintained that she’d stabbed his permanent wife Laleh Saharkhizan in 2002. I don’t know the precise details of the case (presumably some form of jealousy was alleged to have played a part in it) but I do know that Shahla retracted a “confession” she’d made and implied that she’d been tortured into incriminating herself.

This wouldn’t exactly be the first time that a person has gone to the gallows in Iran despite serious doubts about the fairness of the case against them. As readers of this blog will know, the plight of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is another where seriously unfair proceedings and disputed confessions have bedevilled a capital case.

Sadly there’s nothing that can be done to save Shahla Jahad now. Iranian justice is often impervious to international calls for executions to be averted and we understand that at 5am this morning Shahla was duly killed, with Laleh Saharkhizan’s brother actually kicking away the stool that supported Shahla as she waited for her death with a noose around her neck. Another sickening death for Iran to add to its hundreds of judicial killings in the last couple of years.

Meanwhile, the fight over Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani goes on. I would urge readers to now redouble their efforts in supporting Amnesty’s call for Sakineh’s life to be spared and for her imprisoned son and lawyer to be released from jail.

Not surprisingly, I’m making no final joke about footballer wives here. Some things just don’t seem very funny.

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