August 14, 2010
Originally Published in Persian by | August 12, 2010
In an interview with Rooz Online, Javid Kian, the lawyer for the four women who received stoning sentences, has asked international organizations to act in order to save the lives of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, Maryam Ghorbanzadeh, Kobra Babaei, and Azar Bagheri.
Meanwhile, on the Wednesday night episode of the Iran state television program 20/30, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani to adultery and the murder of her husband. She also made [false] confessions against herself and her lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei.
Javid Kian is the lawyer who along with Mohammad Mostafaei represents the Ashtiani case. In an interview with Rooz, Kian talked of the pressures put on Sakineh’s children and said that the televised confession came only after Sakineh was severely beaten and physically assaulted.
Mohammad Mostafaei, referring to the confession, said that the Judiciary system should know that it cannot justify its behaviour and conduct through violence, force, extracting false confessions, and targeting and ruining the character and reputation of others.
The Beating of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani
was shown on television confessing against herself and her lawyer while her case and her fate is still in a cloud of obscurity in the wake of the halt of her stoning sentence. After the confessions of his client was aired, Javid Kian told Rooz, “They took Ms. Ashtiani to room 37 of Tabriz prison and had her confess against herself. However, these confessions were not extracted under normal circumstances. Based on the information I have, Ms. Ashtiani was beaten severely and was forced to take part in the interview. They also filmed family members of Ms. Ashtiani making statements against her.”
He added, “They approached Ms. Ashtiani’s extremely religious family members and filmed them stating that Sakineh committed adultery and must be punished. Unfortunately, Ms. Ashtiani’s family members have put pressure on her children and said to them, ‘Your mother has ruined the reputation of our family and has to be executed and stoned.’ There is a lot of psychological pressure on the children.”
Javid Kian also explains that he was informed through his other clients [detained] in the women’s ward of Tabriz prison that Sakineh was forced to confess in a televised interview under duress and [after receiving] extreme beatings.
Kian said the following on the latest developments in the Ashtiani case: “Our last action was to demand a re-opening and retrial of the case. They were supposed to reply in 20 days, but then the . After that, the case of Ms. Ashtiani was suspended by the Judiciary’ s Intelligence and Security. After Mr. Hosseyni Nobakhti, the executive vice-director of the Tabriz Execution of Sentences office, wrote to Mr. Ezhey, Iran’s General Attorney, Mr. Ezhei passed the case to his principle assistant Saeed Mortazavi. In turn, Mortazavi sent the case to the Judiciary’s Intelligence and Security. He added a note under the letter that the case of Ms. Ghorbanzadeh will be resolved before the case of Ms. Ashtiani. However, these two cases have no connection to one another. This indicates that the life of Maryam Ghorbanzadeh is in danger and they want to execute her as quickly as possible while global attention is focused on Sakineh’s case.”
Mohammad Mostafaei’s Reaction to the Televised Confession
Mohammad Mostafaei told Rooz, “Everyone knows that when the life of a person is in danger, or when (s)he faces death or a stoning sentence, (s)he would have no choice but to sit behind any camera and accept the demands of those who have the control of his/her life. (S)he would say whatever they want to be said. I am certain that this was the case in Sakineh’s confessions. I have to say, however, that the question of murder in Sakineh’s case does not hold at all because the murder was one case and the stoning was another case [in court]. What is important is that when the family of the victim consent to forgive and spare the life the defendant, execution and Qesas (eye-for-an-eye execution) are out of the question, and this has nothing to do with the type and form of the murder. So, while the question of murder has been resolved, it is highlighted on television to justify the [illegal] actions. Why wasn’t the stoning sentence discussed [on television]? Why didn’t they announce that Sakineh requested a pardon three times, but each time it was turned down? Why didn’t they mention the fact that two out of the five judges voted not-guilty [to her sentence] due to a lack of evidence in the adultery charge?”
Mostafaei added, “We argued that a human being is in danger of being stoned and there was no [option] of death [by hanging]. The head of the Tabriz Judiciary, after international attention was gained on the case, said in an interview that the sentence was death by hanging. However, this is not true. Why didn’t they interview her lawyer on television? They claim that I have never met Sakineh, even though I am her lawyer. I have talked to her on the phone many times and I have met her [in person] many times. I am officially representing her, and this is mentioned in the case too. I don’t know what they are trying to prove. If the Judiciary had accepted the demand for pardon, there would not have been so much protest and tumult over the case. The government and judiciary officials should know that they cannot achieve anything by resorting to violence, force, deception, and lies. I do not care what Israel or the USA does or says. My concern is to save the life of a human being from death. In the midst of all this, some people living outside Iran take political advantage of the situation, while others are working in a completely humane and sincere way. I do not deal with those who are taking advantage. I feel sorry for my country. I wish instead of making false documentaries, the officials would choose the correct approaches that would serve the best interests of the country, Islam, and the regime.”
Azar Bagheri, Another Victim
Azar Bagheri is another of Mr. Kian’s clients who has been in jail since she was 14 years old after her husband filed a complaint against her. Mr. Kian said, “Ms. Bagheri has been in jail for ten years, since she was 14. We followed all the legal processes and they issued and reinstated the death by stoning sentence six times. But, just recently, her sentence was changed to lashes. The case is open and has gone to the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court does not overturn the lashing sentence, she is saved from stoning. If the court nullifies it, the stoning sentence may be carried out. However, the risk is that since she will receive 100 lashes on her back while naked, she risks damage to her spinal cord, like in most [lashing] cases.”
Mr. Kian explains that Ms. Bagheri’s husband owed someone money and he invited that person to his home. Then, the husband beat up Azar Bagheri and the other person. He called the police and claimed that they, Ms. Bagheri and the man, were engaged in a sexual relationship and he had witnessed it. He had devised a dirty plan to get rid of his creditor. Now, the sentence has been changed to lashing because we were finally able to prove that the person was in fact a creditor, the entire case was a conspiracy, and the relationship [between Ms. Bagheri and the creditor] was false.”
Stoning Sentence for Kobra Babaei Sent to Processing Office
Kobra Babaei is Javid Kian’s other client whose husband Rahim Mohammadi was executed in Tabriz on the charge of Sodomy. She is at risk of being stoned to death. According to her lawyer, the sentence was sent to branch 7 of the office that processes execution sentences. Rahim Mohammadi never committed sodomy; he had only staged a show to extort someone. His plan never worked and he was arrested. However, they executed him on the charge of sodomy. After the double injustice done to Ms. Babaei, her [current] mental and psychological condition is in a horrific state. She is suffering from severe depression and uses dangerous medications. Our request for a retrial was turned down. She can be stoned any day now.”
Javid Kian asks international organizations to take action to save the lives of these four women. He says that legally his hands are tied, especially with respect to cases that are sent to the office that processes execution sentences, and therefore, he can’t do anything.