Entries in Ashianti (1)


Iran Human Rights Official Draws Fire for Defense of Stoning

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON) -- Iran's top human rights official has come under fire for defending his country's use of stoning adulterers and others designated as criminals under Islamic law, claiming it is a "lesser punishment" than execution because it allows people a chance to survive.

Mohammad-Javad Larijani, a senior envoy and chief of Iran's Human Rights Council, rejected international condemnations of the practice which has included censure by the U.N., and he described stoning as a controlled legal procedure.

"Stoning means you should do a number of acts, by throwing the stone in a limited number, in a special way.…In the eyes of some people, stoning is a lesser punishment than execution because there is a chance you should survive," Larijani said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal published Friday.

Iran has been under international pressure over stonings since the sentencing of Sakineh Ashtiani, 43, for a 2006 adultery charge.

The lawyer representing Ashtiani told ABC News that despite Larijani's mantle as a defender of human rights, he is closely allied with Iran's staunchly conservative Islamic government.

"Larijani is a die-hard establishment figure not at all connected to human rights who is just trying to justify the regime's crimes," said Mohammed Mostafaei, who had to flee Iran after he was threatened with arrest for defending Ashtiani.

"What we know about stoning in Iran is just the tip of the iceberg. Many more stonings take place without lawyers involved," he said.

Ashtiani has confessed on Iranian television three times, though her face was blurred in the broadcasts. Her sentence has reportedly been changed from stoning to hanging, but stoning remains an option.

Though a Parliamentary committee in 2009 recommended the country ban the practice and some Islamic scholars argue there is no Koranic justification for stoning, the government of Iran continues the policy.

Ashtiani's case has become an international cause célèbre, with at least one foreign government, Brazil, offering to give the woman asylum.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio