Iran Human RightsTop Iranian official defends stoning

Top Iranian official defends stoning

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AFP: A top Iranian official on Sunday defended the use of execution by stoning after a sentence was carried out on an adulterer, saying the punishment was legal and in line with Iran’s rights commitments. by Farhad Pouladi

TEHRAN, July 15, 2007 (AFP) – A top Iranian official on Sunday defended the use of execution by stoning after a sentence was carried out on an adulterer, saying the punishment was legal and in line with Iran’s rights commitments.

Mohammad Javad Larijani, the head of the Iranian judiciary’s human rights committee, said the judiciary supported the principle of stoning after confirmation last week of the execution sparked international condemnation.

“Stoning is based on Islamic sharia law and it is not contrary to any of our international obligations,” Larijani was quoted as saying by state television’s website.

“We have signed four important treaties on human rights. None of them has any opposition to stoning.

“But since Westerners have their own interpretations of the articles and the contents of these documents, they oppose stoning,” said Larijani, the brother of Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani.

The stoning to death of Jafar Kiani in a village in the northwestern province of Qazvin was the first time Iran had confirmed such an execution in five years, and came despite a 2002 directive to suspend the practice.

The judicary has since launched a probe into the local judge who ordered that the sentence be carried out, saying it was contrary to the directive issued by judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi.

A stoning sentence involves members of the public hurling rocks at the convict who is buried up to his waist in earth.

Larijani did not explicitly back the execution in Qazvin or offer direct criticism of the local judiciary.

Asked by state television whether the Qazvin verdict went against the judiciary’s will, Larijani repeated that the punishment of stoning was within Islamic law.

“The holy lawgiver made such a verdict not as a way of revenge but deterrence.

“Coming up with such a verdict and executing it has its own special intricacies. Mr Shahroudi is not opposed to the principle of a (stoning) verdict which is based on Islamic sharia.”

Iran’s general prosecutor, top cleric Ghorban Ali Dorri Najafabadi, said that stoning was valid under Islamic law but complained that in this instance there had been insufficient coordination with the central judiciary.

“There was not the required coordination with the judiciary,” he told the state-run IRNA news agency.

“But this (stoning) is the law and it is regarded as such in Islamic penal law.”

Responding to Western criticism of the stoning, Dorri Najafabadi said the world should not use a single instance as a “pretext” to criticise a system that deals with six million cases every year.

Larijani, who also advises the judiciary on international affairs, stressed that the Iranian authorities took “meticulous” care before issuing any stoning verdict.

Western human rights groups have said that other stonings have taken place in Iran since 2002, but the judiciary never confirmed these.

Kiani was arrested 11 years ago while living with Mokarrameh Ebrahimi when both were reportedly married to others. Ebrahimi has also been sentenced to death by stoning, but the carrying out of her verdict has been halted.

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