Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Iranian man stoned to death after being found guilty of adultery - but repentant woman wins reprieve

A man found guilty of adultery has been stoned to death in an Iranian city, despite an official moratorium on the particularly cruel form of execution.

The woman involved in the case has 'repented and so has not been stoned,' said Ali Reza Jamshidi, a judiciary spokesman.

Some Iranian news websites identified the condemned man as Vali Azad, a 30-year-old government employee.

The stoning follows Friday's execution of Delara Darabi, 23, despite calls from the international community for a reprieve.

She was just 17 when she confessed to the killing of her father's cousin, before retracting her confession, saying she had been defending her 19-year-old boyfriend.

Now international aid agencies and human rights group have joined in a chorus of outrage and disapproval over Iran's 'illegal' execution, calling on the U.N. to hold an international tribunal to bring those responsible for justice'.

The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Iran has signed, bans capital punishment for offenders who committed crimes before their 18th birthday.

Miss Darabi has become a figurehead for human rights, and her case gained widespread attention after moving paintings and drawings that she made in her prison cell were shown around the world.

Iran executed eight 'juvenile offenders' last year, and 42 since 1990, according to Amnesty International.

While a few other countries are known to have executed juvenile offenders in recent years - Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Sudan and Pakistan - Iran has accounted for more than two-thirds of such executions in the past four years, according to rights groups.

A person condemned to death by stoning is buried in a pit with his or her hands tied behind the back. If the condemned person manages to pull free, he or she usually faces whipping or imprisonment instead but their life is spared.

Men stoned to death are buried to the waist while women are buried deeper, to stop the stones from hitting their breasts. Such apparent regard for a woman’s modesty effectively means it is harder for a woman to wriggle free because she is buried more deeply than a man.

Stoning as a method of execution is 'specifically designed to increase the suffering of the victim,' Amnesty International said.

Article 104 of Iran’s penal code stipulates that the stones should 'not be large enough to kill the person by one or two strikes; nor should they be so small that they could not be defined as stones'.

Some stoning victims have taken 20 minutes to die.

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