9 Iranians convicted of adultery set to be stoned to death

Lawyers fight sentences of eight women and one man convicted in separate Iranian courts.

stoning 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
stoning 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Eight women and one man convicted of adultery are set to be stoned to death in Iran, activists said Sunday. Lawyer and women's rights activist, Shadi Sadr, said the nine were convicted of adultery in separate cases in different Iranian cities. "Their verdicts are approved, and they may be executed at any time," she told reporters. Sadr, who has been leading a campaign in Iran against stoning deaths since 2006, said trial protocol was not applied properly in the cases. Six of the nine were convicted based solely on judges' decisions with no witnesses or the presence of their lawyers during their confessions, she said. Most of the nine come from areas of Iran that have low rates of literacy and some did not understand the cases against them, she said. One of Sadr's colleagues, Mohammad Mostafai, said his client, Malak Qorbani, had pleaded guilty to adultery even though she did not know the meaning of the charge. The nine are between 27 and 50 years old, among them a male music teacher who was convicted of adultery for having an affair with one of his students, the activists said. "We are trying to stop the implementation of their verdicts. And secondly, we want to amend the country's penal law, in which death by stoning is prescribed," Sadr said. Calls to judiciary officials were not immediately returned on Sunday. Under Iran's Islamic laws, adultery in the only capital offense punishable by stoning. Other capital offenses in Iran include murder, rape, armed robbery, apostasy, blasphemy, drug trafficking, prostitution, treason and espionage. The punishment is also applied in some other countries such as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Nigeria. A man is usually buried up to his waist, while a woman is buried up to her neck. Those carrying out the verdict then throw stones until the condemned dies. Stoning was widely imposed in the early years after Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution that toppled the pro-Western Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and brought hard-line clerics to power. But in recent years, it has seldom been applied, though the government rarely confirms when it carries out stoning sentences. The last stoning death confirmed by the government was in July 2007. In the recent years, reformist legislators demanded an end to death by stoning as a punishment for adultery, but opposition from hard-line clerics sidelined their efforts.