Larry King: Now why don’t you interview Mina Ahadi and Sajjad Ghaderzadeh?
Larry King’s overly cordial interview with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad failed to press the head of a repressive Islamic Republic of Iran on many issues raised, including on the Iran stoning case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.
When asked about the stoning case, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad replied: ‘This lady’s case has not been completely examined yet. No verdict has been issued yet. She is accused of being — of murdering her husband. And I don’t think in the world if someone is accused of murdering their husband, people would pour on the streets and rally in support of her.’ Without correcting the facts on the case, King then went on to say: ‘If they were going to stone her, they would.’ Ahmadinejad then said: ‘She has been accused of the murder of her husband. There is no verdict issued. No verdict, no sentence has been passed… And it is not about a stoning case at all. There’s no stoning sentence here at all. A person in Germany made this claim, which was untrue. Our judiciary also said it was a false statement.’
Given the public outcry against stoning, it is understandable why Ahmadinejad prefers to lie on the issue.
In fact, however, a number of government officials have confirmed and defended the stoning sentence. In an interview on 8 September, Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, said that Ms Ashtiani’s stoning sentence was under review by the Supreme Court. In July 2010, Mohammad Javad Larijani, head of the Human Rights Department of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Judiciary, told IRNA state news agency that stoning is in the Islamic Republic’s constitution and therefore the law. He went on to say that Ms Ashtiani’s case has gone through the routine procedures and that there is no ambiguities surrounding it. He added that protests would not affect judges or the execution of sentences since stoning is part of the sacred Sharia of Islam. Also in July, Malek Ajdar Sharifi, the top judicial official in the province where Ashtiani was convicted, said the verdict has been halted due to humanitarian reservations and upon the order of the judiciary chief, and would not be carried out for the moment.
Furthermore, the International Committee against Stoning has provided the actual court verdict sentencing Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani to death by stoning. In the Judgement (ref no. 38 – 85/6/19, dated 10 September 2006, Case reference number: 94 – 84/6 Province Criminal [Court], Reference number of the Head Penal Office: 237 – 84/11/18) the plaintiff is listed as the ‘Honourable Prosecutor of the General and Revolutionary Court of Tabriz’, the accused is listed as ‘Mrs Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, daughter of Asqar, of Tabriz address (Tabriz Prison)’ and the charge is listed as ‘Adultery [Zena-ye Mohseneh’]. Court documents can be found here.
Additionally, Ms. Ashtiani has been acquitted of murder. Even the man convicted of her husband’s murder has not been executed. In Iran, under Diyeh laws, the family of the victim can ask for the death penalty to be revoked. Ms Ashtiani’s son explains why he and his 17 year old sister spared the man’s life in an interview saying: ‘He is the father of a little girl who is three years old, who cried many tears before us. We, my sister and I, did not want to be the cause of his execution.’
Clearly the regime hopes to brand Ms Ashtiani a murderer in order to push back the immense international campaign in her defence. This, however, is unlikely given the outrage surrounding this case in particular and the barbaric practice of stoning in general. This is largely due to Ms Ashtiani’s children who pleaded for international support when she was to be imminently stoned to death and Mina Ahadi who is referred to by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a ‘person in Germany.’ Mina Ahadi accepts Ahmadinejad’s ‘accusation’ with pride.
Larry King and Christiane Amanpour: You have interviewed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Now why don’t you interview Mina Ahadi and Sajjad Ghaderzadeh for the truth on Ms Ashtiani’s case, stoning and the regime in Iran?
1. You can see the video of the Larry King interview here.
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