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Iran: Televised 'confession' in stoning case condemned

Amnesty International has condemned the TV “confession” of an Iranian woman last night, in which Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43-year-old mother of two awaiting execution by stoning for adultery, appears to implicate herself in the murder of her husband.

The interview was broadcast last night on the “20:30” programme by Seda va Sima, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting.

Amnesty is pointing out that televised “confessions” have repeatedly been used by the Iranian authorities to incriminate individuals in custody. Many have later retracted these “confessions”, stating that they were coerced to make them, sometimes under torture or other ill-treatment.

Amnesty International Middle East Deputy Director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui said:

“This so-called confession forms part of growing catalogue of other forced confessions and self-incriminating statements made by many detainees in the past year.

“Statements made in such televised exchanges should have no bearing on Iran's legal system, or the call to review her case.  This latest video shows nothing more than the lack of evidence against Sakineh Ashtiani."

Amnesty understands that last week, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s lawyer, Javid Houtan Kiyan, submitted a 35-page request for a judicial review of her case, and that a response is expected on or around 15 August. Unconfirmed reports that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has recently been tortured or ill-treated while in Tabriz Central Prison, underscores Amnesty’s concern.

Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui added:

“It appears that Iran’s authorities have orchestrated this 'confession', following the call for a judicial review and now appear to be inventing new charges of murdering her husband.

“Having Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani broadcast in this manner calls into question the independence of the judiciary, at least vis-a-vis the state broadcaster, and its ability to adhere to Iran's own laws. If the judiciary in Iran is to be taken seriously, this ‘confession’ needs to be disregarded and assurances given that it will not affect the review of her case.”

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