Iran Human RightsIran judiciary confirms men stoned to death for adultery

Iran judiciary confirms men stoned to death for adultery

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ImageAFP: Iran's judiciary on Tuesday confirmed that two men had been stoned to death for adultery in the northeastern city of Mashhad while a third struggled from the stoning hole and escaped with his life.

ImageTEHRAN, January 13, 2009 (AFP) – Iran's judiciary on Tuesday confirmed that two men had been stoned to death for adultery in the northeastern city of Mashhad while a third struggled from the stoning hole and escaped with his life.

"As you saw in reports, there were three stonings carried out in Mashhad. They were convicted of adultery, that is an affair with a married woman," judiciary spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi told reporters.

He said two of the men died in the executions carried out "about 20 days ago" while the third was spared after he managed to extricate himself from the stoning hole.

Under Iran's Islamic law, adultery is still theoretically punishable by stoning, which involves the public hurling stones at the convict buried up to his waist. A woman is buried up to her shoulders.

The convict is spared if he can free himself.

Despite a 2002 directive by the judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi imposing a moratorium on such executions, five Iranians have reportedly been stoned to death in the past four years.

Jamshidi, commenting on the courts ordering stoning sentences, said "judges are independent and they are likely not to act to the judiciary chief's advice" as long as law remains unchanged.

Quoting rights activists, the reformist Etemad Melli newspaper said on Sunday that three men had been stoned between December 21 and 26 in Behesht Reza cemetery in Mashhad.

It identified one of the men as Houshang Kh. and the survivor as an Afghan national named Mahmoud.

In August, the judiciary said it had scrapped the punishment in Iran's new Islamic penal code, whose outlines have been adopted by parliament but whose details are yet to be debated by MPs before final approval.

It said several stoning sentences have been suspended and commuted to either lashes or jail terms.

However, in July 2007 the Islamic republic drew international outrage by stoning to death JafarKiani, a man convicted of adultery, in a village in the northwest of Iran.

Eight women and two men are currently under sentence of death by stoning in Iranian prisons, Etemad Melli said quoting rights activists, while the sentence has been commuted for four other women.

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