'Nine adulterers risk stoning in Iran' | world | Hindustan Times
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'Nine adulterers risk stoning in Iran'

world Updated: Jul 20, 2008 19:31 IST

An Iranian rights group on Sunday voiced concern at the fate of eight women and one man sentenced to death by stoning for adultery and asked the Islamic republic to halt their execution.

"We are very worried as there are at least eight women and one man with a definitive verdict which can be carried out at any moment," said lawyer Shadi Sadr from the Volunteer Lawyers' Network which represents the female convicts.

"There are no guarantees that the punishments will be halted or commuted," said Sadr.

The group said the convicts were mostly from illiterate and under-privileged backgrounds who were condemned to death by stoning in the absence of a good defence.

"In none of the cases do we have four confessions in the presence of a lawyer or an eyewitness. They have mostly been convicted by the judge's knowledge which is arbitrary," Sadr said.

The group has been able to save five women and a man from stoning in the past two years, and complained that the punishment for adultery mostly targeted women as polygamy was allowed for men under Iranian law.

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

But a 2002 directive by judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi imposed a moratorium on such executions.

However, in July 2007 the Islamic republic caused international outrage when Jafar Kiani was stoned to death in a village in northwestern Iran.