A man and woman have been sentenced to be stoned to death for alleged adultery in Iran’s Lorestan province: “The verdict was issued for the public dissemination of a video clip showing the illicit relationship between a clergy and a woman.”
Screenshot from the Stoning of Soraya M Photo Credit: Youtube
According to a report in the Borujerdi Civil Rights Group, a woman and man in the Lorestan province of the Islamic Republic of Iran were sentenced to death by stoning for allegedly committing adultery. Iranian sources have referred to the woman as SM. The report noted that the sentence was issued in a Regional Islamic Court of Justice and it is possible for lawyers to appeal the sentence to the Iranian High Court.
Iranian human rights activist Shabnam Assadollahi told JerusalemOnline: “The verdict was issued for the public dissemination of a video clip showing the illicit relationship between a clergy and a woman. The husband of SM is the complainant for the case who has demanded maximum punishment for his wife and the man. In light of the secret recording of the clip, it is suspected that Iran’s security and intelligence agencies in Lorestan were involved in setting up the case. The stoning sentence is issued while the Islamic Republic of Iran’s former Chief Justice has issued a directive instructing judges to refrain from issuing the medieval and inhuman sentence of stoning.”
“The Islamic Penal Code in Iran dictates execution by stoning for those who are being accused of alleged adultery,” the Borujerdi Civil Rights Group noted. The stones are large enough to cause pain but not so large as to kill the victims immediately. The execution is a method of capital punishment whereby a group hurls stones predominately with increasing speed at a person until he/she dies. An adulterous man shall be buried in a ditch up to his waist and an adulterous woman up to her chest and only then the group starts throwing stones at the victim until he or she dies.”
Iranian human rights activist Kaveh Taheri told JerusalemOnline: “Lately, nobody was stoned in Iran but it still may potentially be implemented on those allegedly accused of adultery. According to the Islamic Penal Code, the court cites a testimony that should be verified by at least four male witnesses. Under Islamic law, adultery can only be proven if the accused confesses or if there are four male witnesses. But, the victims are mostly accused of adultery in a kangaroo court or tribal courts with not so much verified evidence. Hardliner people typically collude to accuse the victims in closed communities ruled by the Sharia law.”
“The international community and human rights organizations have come out and frequently campaigned against the barbaric death penalty by stoning for it is a brutal and unacceptable execution method,” he noted. “Activists and human rights organizations in Iran have repeatedly expressed concerns over the grotesque and intolerable sentence and called upon the authorities to amend the country’s Penal Code.”
Nevertheless, according to Iranian dissident Mohsen Behzad Karimi, this particular stoning case is quite suspicious: “Since the case is not only adultery and involves a video of the crime which has gone viral after the arrest and also relates to the involvement of a cleric as a defendant, this raises a lot of questions about this story. Bear in mind that the barbaric sentences like stoning have been less in use by judges in recent years due to the international protests against such court decisions. The case is still too young and considering the news coverage, which is quite rare on crimes committed by clerics, raises the suspicions of the real goals of the authorities about publicizing the case. Similar and even harsher punishments in the past did not grab such media attention and many reformist websites contributed in a rare move regarding this case. Does this case have a political motive to it? I seriously cannot comment at this early stage. However, I cannot find an appropriate answer to the questions surrounding the case.”