Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani
Native nameسکینه محمدی آشتیانی;
Tabriz, Iran[2]
Criminal chargeadultery, conspiracy to commit murder
Criminal penaltydeath by stoning (commuted to 10 years in prison)
Criminal statusfreed in 2014

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani (Persian: سکینه محمدی آشتیانی‎; born 1967), is an Iranian Azeri woman who has gained the attention of human rights groups and people throughout the world for a conviction of adultery and attempted murder and its accompanying sentence of death by stoning.[3][4][5] Her sentence was commuted and she was freed in 2014 after nine years on death row.[6]


Ashtiani is an Iranian Azeri born in Tabriz[2] in the Persian calendar 1347 (1967–1968) and grew up in the rural town of Osku, East Azerbaijan Province, Iran.[7] Sakineh worked outside her home for two years as a kindergarten teacher.[8][9][10]

Arrest and conviction[edit]

Ashtiani was arrested in 2005 on charges of adultery and conspiracy to commit murder in the death of her husband.[6] In 2006, the court sentenced her to death by stoning after she was convicted.[11][12] An international campaign to overturn her sentence was started by her children, Farideh and Sajjad Qaderzadeh, through a letter about their mother's case which is published by Mission Free Iran.[13]

Prominent media sources picked up on the news via interviews with her son, which include information on her stoning sentence.[14] The international publicity generated by Ashtiani's situation lead to numerous diplomatic conflicts between Iran's government and the heads of certain western governments. As a result, her execution has been stayed indefinitely.[15] Shortly after the international campaign begins, various Iranian officials state that Ashtiani is also guilty of various charges related to the murder of her husband. The range of charges includes murder, manslaughter,[16] conspiracy,[17] and complicity.[18] However, major human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, some NGOs and her lawyers have stated that Ashtiani was acquitted of murder, and that she initially received a 10-year sentence for complicity in murder and "disrupting the public order". It was reduced to five years on appeal. She was convicted twice of adultery in separate trials and sentenced to death by stoning.[19][20][21]

In December 2011, the Iranian authorities indicated that they intend to go ahead with her execution, but by hanging.[22] However, the hanging was not carried out, and Iranian officials afterwards denied that they intended to execute her.

On 24 July 2012, Amnesty International stresses that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani's fate is still unclear, while her former lawyer Javid Houtan Kiyan languishes in jail.[8]

In March 2014 Ashtiani was pardoned for good behavior and released from prison.[23]

Adultery law in Iran[edit]

The civil and criminal law (the Islamic Penal Code) is determined by Iran's Parliament (known as Majlis), and it must conform to and not contradict Sharia law. The law states that unmarried adulterers will receive 100 lashes, and married adulterers will be sentenced to death by stoning. However, it demands heavy proof requirements. To be convicted, the person either must confess to the crime, have four witnesses testify against him/her, or in some rare cases, the judges may use circumstantial evidence. If the person is repentant, the judge can give a reduced sentence of 99 lashes. In addition, the person may also spend one year in prison. Due to the high proof requirements, convictions for adultery are relatively rare, and even when they occur, the death sentence for that crime is almost never given, except in serious cases such as when the spouse died (which is what occurred in Ashtiani's case). In 2002, Iran had put a moratorium on stoning to death. In January 2012, Iran officially changed its law, saying that adultery could be punished by hanging, rather than stoning, possibly ending that punishment in Iran. This penalty has never been carried out for more than a decade in Iran and is unlikely in the near future.

Legal proceedings[edit]

Original proceedings[edit]

In 2005, Ebrahim Qaderzadeh, Ashtiani's husband, aged 44, was murdered by electrocution by his cousin, Isa Taheri.[24]

Ashtiani allegedly committed adultery with Isa Taheri, who murdered her husband, as well as a second unknown man.[25] Taheri and Ashtiani were arrested as suspects, and according to some sources, Ashtiani was accused of committing adultery by the wife of one of her late husband's coworkers. On May 15, 2006 Sakineh entered a guilty plea of having had an "illicit relationship outside marriage" with another man (court records show it was not Taheri, but another person).[26][27] The court handed down a punishment of 99 lashes; her son watched the whipping.[28] In addition, she may have received one year in prison as well.[25]

In his trial, Taheri was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. Under Islamic law, murderers can be forgiven and pay restitution (diyya) to the victim's family, or the family can demand retribution (qisas) and have the murderer executed. Sajjad Qaderzadeh, Ashtiani's son, forgave Taheri, accepted blood money, and he was sentenced to 10 years in prison.[25][29] According to some sources, he has been later freed and is no longer in prison.

In September 2006, her murder case went to trial. She was not found guilty of the actual murder (since she did not physically kill her husband and the murderer was forgiven) but she was given 10 years in prison for complicity in murder and disrupting the public order, equal to Taheri's sentence. Upon appeal, this was later reduced to five years in prison.[30] She was also brought to trial again for adultery. Her son, Sajjad Qaderzadeh, states that he was unaware of this new trial, and as she had been convicted for adultery previously, this new trial was "illegal". However, this trial may have been for adultery committed with Taheri, rather than a "second man", as records from her previous trial seem to indicate. This time, the court sentenced her to death, because of her alleged role in her husband's murder. Ashtiani recanted a previous confession and entered a plea of "not guilty".[31] Out of the five ruling judges, three found her guilty; the other two indicated that although they do not doubt her guilt, since she has been previously convicted of adultery, she should not be punished again.

Due to the 3-2 majority vote, she was sentenced to death by stoning for adultery.[32] Ashtiani may have had difficulty understanding the case[33][34] because she speaks Azeri and not Persian.[35] Malek Ejdar Sharifi, head of East Azerbaijan Province's judiciary said, "She was sentenced to capital punishment... for committing murder, manslaughter and adultery."[36][not in citation given] However, according to advocacy group Mission Free Iran, this is contrary to the documentation on Ashtiani's case.[37] Iran's Supreme Court confirmed her death sentence in 2007. Her appeal was denied, as was her request for clemency by the "Amnesty and Pardons Commission" of Iran.[29]

Further developments[edit]

In mid-2010, Ashtiani became the subject of an international campaign, which may have prompted renewed developments in her case.

The Press Section of the Iranian Embassy in London issued the following statement on July 8, 2010:

"Considering the statements made by the Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt on an Iranian national, Mrs Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, and her execution, hereby this mission denies the false news aired in this respect and notifies the Ministry that according to information from the relevant judicial authorities in Iran, she will not be executed by stoning punishment."[38]

By July 9, 2010, the Iranian government banned reporters in Iran from reporting on any details of the case.[39] One of her lawyers, Mohammed Mostafaei, fled the country when he is charged with "financial fraud". Mostafaei stated that he was being harassed for defending his client, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, as well as other clients.[40][41] Mostafaei sought asylum internationally, first in Turkey, and then Norway, where he was reunited with his family on September 2, 2010.[42]

On August 4, 2010, the Iranian authorities told Ashtiani's new lawyer, Houtan Kian, that she faced death by hanging.[43] On the same day, Tehran's High Court rejected a reopening of the trial and instead considered the Tabriz prosecutor's demand to execute Ashtiani. Her case was subsequently transferred to the deputy prosecutor-general Saeed Mortazavi. Ashtiani's son was told that the file on his father's murder case had been lost. Her son stated, "they are lying about the charges against my mother. She was acquitted of murdering my father but now the government is building up their own story against her."[44] Her son's statement was contradicted by numerous Iranian news accounts describing her as being convicted of both complicity in murder and adultery, although those reports may not be accurate.[45][46]

On August 12, 2010, Ashtiani was televised from Tabriz prison on an Iranian state-run television program which showed her confessing in native Azerbaijani language to adultery and involvement with the murder of her husband once again. Her lawyer alleged she has been tortured for two days prior to the interview.[35]

On August 28, Ashtiani was given 24-hour notice that she was to be hanged at dawn the next day. She wrote her last will and testament just before the call to morning prayer at 4:00 AM local time, when she expected to be led to the gallows at Tabriz Prison. However, the sentence was stayed. It may have been a mock execution.[44]

Suspension of the stoning sentence[edit]

On September 8, 2010, Ramin Mehmanparast, a spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry, confirmed that the government had suspended the stoning sentence, pending a review of her husband's murder case.[citation needed] Mehmanparast added[clarification needed] that she was guilty of both adultery and murder and that her case was undeserving of the international attention it has drawn. He said that releasing murderers should not be made into a human rights issue and called on countries criticising Iran to release all their murderers as well.[47] According to the human rights organisation Iran Human Rights, Ashtiani remained in danger of capital punishment by hanging.[48]

Iran Human Rights also expressed concerns over Mehmanparast's statement about "Sakineh's murder charge being investigated for the final verdict". Commenting on this statement, the spokesperson of Iran Human Rights, Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, says: "The fact that the authorities are mentioning murder charges now could mean that Ashtiani is in danger of being sentenced to death for murder". But Iranian authorities indicate that Ashtiani is "held in the prison of Tabriz and in perfect health."[49]

Her lawyer, Houtan Kian, was arrested in October 2010.[50] Her son was also arrested in October 2010, after speaking to two German reporters, who had entered the country on tourist visas.[51][52] He is released on $40,000 bail in December.[51] On January 1, 2011, he is shown on television admitting he did not doubt his mother was guilty... but urges Iranian authorities to let her live.[51][53] He also says it is unfair that Isa Taheri is free.[51][54] But Press TV reports that, according to the Human Rights Headquarters of the Iranian Judiciary, the deceased husband's "next of kin waived their right to retribution"; as a consequence, Taheri has been handed down a 10-year discretionary jail term.[25]

There have been some cases of political prisoners confessing on live television under torture or extreme pressure in Iran. It is not clear certain if this was such a case or not.

International campaign[edit]

Ashtiani's two children began a campaign to overturn their mother's conviction. In June 2010, they wrote a letter to the world asking for help to save their mother, which was then first published on June 26, 2010, by Mission Free Iran's International Committee against Stoning.[55] The letter brought widespread attention in 2010 as a result of grassroots campaigning through social networking sites that led to the letter's being passed along to mainstream mass media.[citation needed]

During July 2010, protests occurred in Rome, London and Washington, D.C., among other cities.[56][57] Calls to stop her execution came from leading human rights groups Avaaz, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch as well as from several high-profile celebrities.[58][59][60][61] A petition was created in support of her release, and has been signed by several additional prominent activists.[62]

On July 31, 2010, the president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, said he would ask the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to send Mrs. Ashtiani to Brazil, where she would be granted asylum.[63] According to the Brazilian Foreign Ministry, the Brazilian ambassador in Tehran was directly instructed to communicate their asylum proposal to the Iranian government.[64] Iranian officials responded by suggesting that Lula had "not received enough information about the case".[65] U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mentioned Mrs. Ashtiani in a declaration on August 10, 2010, urging Iran to respect the fundamental freedoms of its citizens.[66]

In late August 2010, the Iranian newspaper Kayhan called Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, the First Lady of France, a "prostitute" who "deserved death" after she condemned the stoning sentence against Mrs. Ashtiani.[67][68] Iranian officials condemned this statement and[69] Ahmadinejad condemned Kayhan's comments toward Mrs. Bruni-Sarkozy's as a "crime" and "against Islam" .[70]

A resolution by the European Parliament on September 8, 2010, declared that "a sentence of death by stoning can never be justified." The vote passed by a margin of 658–1, the sole vote against having been made in error and later rectified, according to the Associated Press.[71] On September 29, 2010, EveryOne Group, a human rights organisation based in Italy, appealed to the Iranian Authorities for an act of compassion for Mrs. Ashtiani.[72] International human rights campaign for her release, however, has been criticized for being sexist because a study shows that this campaign totally left her male accomplice to his fate despite the fact that both of them were in the same crime and received the same verdict.[73]

2014 release[edit]

In March 2014, Mohammad-Javad Larijani, the Islamic regime’s Secretary General for Human Rights, announced that Sakineh Ashtiani had been pardoned, due to good behaviour. She had spent nearly 10 years on death row.[23][74][75] Larijani stated that the media attention surrounding her sentence to death by stoning was "propaganda" and that the death sentence she had initially received was for the murder of her husband and not the adultery.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Sakineh Ashtiani Mohammadi en haar advocaat Javid Houtan Kiyan". Amnesty International (in Dutch). Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  2. ^ a b Stengers, Lauriane (2011-08-30). Pierres non seulement: Conversations avec Sakineh (Not Only Stones: Conversations with Sakineh). BoD France. p. 2011. ISBN 9782810621552.
  3. ^ Woolridge, Mike (9 July 2010). "Iran's grim history of death by stoning". BBC News. Retrieved 9 May 2011.
  4. ^ Moaveni, Azadeh (8 July 2010). "Death By Stoning: Iran's Internal Debate". Time. Retrieved 9 May 2011.
  5. ^ "PressTV".
  6. ^ a b c Tomlinson, Hugh (19 March 2014). "Ashtiani freed after 9 years on death row". The Times. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  7. ^ Sixth Branch of the Criminal Court of the Province of Eastern Azerbaijan, The. "Stoning : The Court Verdict Concerning Sakineh Ashtiani". Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
  8. ^ a b "Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani's fate unclear while lawyer Javid Houtan Kiyan languishes in jail".
  9. ^ Levy, Bernard-Henri (2010-12-11). "The Stoning of Sakineh A looming atrocity in Iran". The New Republic. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
  10. ^ Dehghan, Saeed Kamali (August 27, 2010). "News World news Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani's family turned away from prison visit". Guardian News and Media. London. Retrieved 9 May 2011.
  11. ^ "Iran stoning 'temporarily halted' by judicial chief". BBC. 12 Jul 2010. Retrieved 22 May 2011.
  12. ^ "Iran woman escapes stoning death for adultery". BBC News. 8 July 2010. Retrieved 17 February 2010.
  13. ^ "Letter from the Children of Sakine Mohammadi: Protest Against our Mother's Stoning". Mission Free Iran. 26 June 2010. Retrieved 17 February 2011.
  14. ^ Somra, Gena (6 July 2010). "Son pleads for help as mother awaits stoning in Iran". Cable News Network. Retrieved 12 February 2011.
  15. ^ "Iranian woman's execution delayed". CTVNews.
  16. ^ "Judiciary official says woman to be stoned for husband's murder, not just adultery". Los Angeles Times. 12 Jul 2010. Retrieved 22 May 2011.
  17. ^ Dehgan, Saeed Kamali (6 Aug 2010). "Iranian facing stoning speaks: 'It's because I'm a woman'". Guardian. London. Retrieved 22 May 2011.
  18. ^ "Judiciary issues statement on Ashtiani". Press TV. 29 Aug 2010. Retrieved 22 May 2011.
  19. ^ "Iran: 'Confession,' Stoning Sentence a Mockery of Justice". Human Rights Watch. 2010-08-13. Retrieved 22 May 2011.
  20. ^ "Sakineh Still at Risk". Amnesty International. 2010-12-10. Retrieved 22 May 2011.
  21. ^ Dehghan, Saeed Kamali (31 Aug 2010). "Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani subjected to mock execution". Guardian. London. Retrieved 22 May 2011.
  22. ^ latest news
  23. ^ a b "Sakineh Ashtiani, Once Sentenced to Stoning Execution, to Be Released". برای ایران آزاد mission free iran. 2014-03-18.
  24. ^ Usborne, David (13 August 2010). "Televised 'confession' of Iranian stoning convict causes outrage". The Independent. London. Retrieved 16 February 2011.
  25. ^ a b c d "PressTV".
  26. ^ "FAQs about the sentencing of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani". Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women, The. Retrieved 15 February 2011.
  27. ^ Dehghan, Saeed Kamali (2 July 2010). "Campaign for Iranian woman facing death by stoning". Guardian News and Media. London. Retrieved 15 February 2011.
  28. ^ Lévy, Bernard-Henri (2 September 2010). "Interview: Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani's Son, Sajjad, Speaks". Huffington Post. Retrieved 15 February 2011.
  29. ^ a b "Iran: Prevent Woman's Execution for Adultery". Human Rights Watch. July 7, 2010. Retrieved July 12, 2010.
  30. ^ "Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani: a timeline". Guardian News and Media. London. 9 December 2010. Retrieved 15 February 2011.
  31. ^ "Iran airs 'interview with Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani'". BBC News. 16 September 2010. Retrieved 15 February 2011.
  32. ^ Sixth Branch of the Criminal Court of the Province of Eastern Azerbaijan, The. "Stoning : The Court Verdict Concerning Sakineh Ashtiani". Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation. Retrieved 11 February 2011.
  33. ^ Dehghan, Saeed Kamali (July 8, 2010). "Iranians still facing death by stoning despite 'reprieve'". Guardian News and Media. London. Retrieved February 24, 2011.
  34. ^ "Iran delivers an ambiguous reprieve". The Irish Times. July 10, 2010. Retrieved July 12, 2010. Ashtiani, a member of the Azerbijani minority who did not understand the proceedings
  35. ^ a b Dehghan, Saeed Kamali (August 12, 2010). "Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani "confessed" to involvement in murder on Iran state TV". The Guardian. London. Retrieved August 15, 2010.
  36. ^ "Iran's judiciary suspends stoning sentence against woman". The Hindu. Chennai, India. July 12, 2010. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
  37. ^ "ICAE Press Release #72: In Response to Ahmadinejad's Falsehoods about the Sakineh Ashtiani Case, Sajjad, Sakineh's son, Challenges Ahmadinejad to a Debate on ABC [ENG – FA – FR] – برای ایران آزاد mission free iran". برای ایران آزاد mission free iran. 2010-09-19.
  38. ^ "Iran denies stoning claims". PressTV. July 9, 2010. Retrieved August 19, 2010.
  39. ^ Dehghan, Saeed Kamali. "Iran imposes media blackout over stoning sentence woman", The Guardian, July 9, 2010
  40. ^ Esfandiari, Golnaz (10 Aug 2010). "Iran Accuses Exiled Lawyer In Stoning Case Of Financial Fraud". Radio Free Europe. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
  41. ^ "Iran Accuses Exiled Lawyer In Stoning Case Of Financial Fraud".
  42. ^ Watson, Ivan (September 3, 2010). "Human rights lawyer who fled Iran is reunited with family". CNN. Retrieved September 10, 2010.
  43. ^ "Iran stoning case lawyer arrested in Turkey after escaping across border". The Guardian. London. August 4, 2010. Retrieved August 4, 2010.
  44. ^ a b Dehghan, Saeed Kamali (August 31, 2010). "Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani subjected to mock execution". The Guardian. London. Retrieved September 9, 2010.
  45. ^ "Asia-pacific – New photos raise false hopes in Sakineh saga". France 24. 2010-12-10.
  46. ^ Dehghan, Saeed Kamali (September 16, 2010). "Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani denies torture claims on Iranian TV". The Guardian. London. Retrieved September 24, 2010.
  47. ^ "Iran Suspends Stoning Sentence". Voice of America. 8 September 2010. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
  48. ^ "Sakineh Ashtiani is still in great danger". Iran Human Rights. 8 September 2010. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
  49. ^ "PressTV".
  50. ^ "Javid Houtan Kian Still Suffering From The Consequences Of Being Tortured Under Detention". HRANA. 9 November 2015. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  51. ^ a b c d Karimi, Nasser. "Son of Iran woman to be stoned wants new sentence". Associated Press – Sat Jan 1, 2:31 pm ET. Retrieved 2011-01-09. freed on Dec. 12 after posting a $40,000 bail ... He said he was arrested because the German journalists broke the law by entering the country on tourist visas ... Qaderzadeh told journalists that he didn't doubt his mother was guilty ... Qaderzadeh said it was not fair that his mother was in jail but that the man who murdered his father, Isa Taheri, was free.
  52. ^ Iran Live News report on Mrs. Ashtiani Archived July 13, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  53. ^
  54. ^ Archived from the original on January 8, 2011. Retrieved January 8, 2011. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  55. ^ "TAKE ACTION: Letter from the Children of Sakine Mohammadi: We Stretch Out Our Hands to the People of the Whole World: Protest Against our Mother's Stoning". برای ایران آزاد mission free iran. 2010-06-26.
  56. ^ "Iran execution of woman temporarily halted, state media reports". CNN. July 11, 2010. Retrieved July 12, 2010.
  57. ^ "DC: Protests Outside Iranian Interests Building: Stop the Stoning of Sakineh Ashtiani". Responsible for Equality And Liberty. July 3, 2010. Retrieved July 12, 2010.
  58. ^ Akin, David (July 10, 2010). "PM's wife opposes Iranian woman's death sentence". Toronto Sun. Retrieved July 12, 2010.
  59. ^ "Halt stoning of Iran 'adulterer' – Human Rights Watch". BBC News. July 7, 2010. Retrieved July 12, 2010.
  60. ^ "Celebs Pressure Iran on Stoning". The Sun. London. July 8, 2010. Retrieved July 12, 2010.
  61. ^ Gibson, Megan (July 9, 2010). "An Iranian Woman's Unlikely Supporter: Lindsay Lohan". Time Magazine. Retrieved July 12, 2010.
  62. ^ Harris, Jonathan Daniel (August 4, 2010). "The 'Free Sakineh' Mohammadi Ashtiani Movement Spreads Through Petitions And Letters". The Huffington Post. Retrieved August 19, 2010.
  63. ^ Lula apela ao líder do Irã para enviar condenada à morte por apedrejamento ao Brasil, Folha Online, July 31, 2010. Retrieved August 5, 2010
  64. ^ "Lula assina 'contrariado' decreto com sanções ao Irã, diz Amorim". Rede Globo (in Portuguese). August 10, 2010. Retrieved August 19, 2010.
  65. ^ "Iran snubs Brazilian asylum offer for stoning woman". The Guardian. London. Associated Press. August 3, 2010. Retrieved August 5, 2010.
  66. ^ "Urging Iran to Respect the Fundamental Freedoms of its Citizens". August 10, 2010.
  67. ^ Black, Ian (August 31, 2010). "Iranian media warned after paper calls Carla Bruni-Sarkozy a 'prostitute'". The Guardian. London.
  68. ^ "Iranian newspaper says French first lady deserves to die". CNN. September 1, 2010.
  69. ^ "Iran Distances Itself from Insult to Bruni-Sarkozy". FOX. August 31, 2010.
  70. ^ "Ahmadinejad says Bruni insult a 'crime'". The Sydney Morning Herald. September 19, 2010.
  71. ^ Cassert, Raf (September 8, 2010). "European pressure mounts on Iran over stoning case". London: The Associated Press. Retrieved September 9, 2010.
  72. ^ "EveryOne Group appeals for an act of compassion towards Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani" (Press release). EveryOne Group. September 29, 2010. Retrieved October 24, 2010.
  73. ^ Shahghasemi, E. (October 26, 2016). Human Rights against Human Rights: Sexism in Human Rights Discourse for Sakineh Mohammadi. Society, 53(6), 614–618.
  74. ^ Iran Says Woman Sentenced to Stoning Given 'Leave' From Prison by Reuters on
  75. ^ "Graziata Sakineh, la donna condannata alla lapidazione in Iran". Tgcom24. 20 March 2014.

External links[edit]