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The stoning saga continues: regime adds murder to list of Ashtiani crimes.

The Islamic Republic is now asserting that Sakineh MohammadiAshtiani murdered her husband, in what she thinks is an effort to justify her execution by hanging.

The government earlier said Ashtiani had been convicted in 2006 of adultery with the man who killed her husband and sentenced to execution by stoning. After an international uproar last month, the state dropped the stoning sentence. That still left her eligible for execution by another method, but an execution for the crime of adultery could well set off another international uproar.

Questioned about the case last week at a meeting of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Mossadegh Kahnemoui, an Iranian judicial official, said, "This lady, in addition to double adultery, was found guilty of conspiracy to murder her husband."

Ashtiani told The Guardian of Britain, "They're lying. They're embarrassed by the international attention on my case and they are desperately trying to distract attention and confuse the media."

The Guardian said Ashtiani had a clandestine interview with it last week, carried out through an intermediary, in which she charged that the Islamic Republic had created the murder conviction in an effort justify executing her for the embarrassment she has caused the regime.

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Ashtiani, 43, said, "I was found guilty of adultery and was acquitted of murder."

She said she felt more vulnerable now that her lawyer has fled the country to avoid arrest. (See accompanying story.) She said, "They wanted to get rid of my lawyer so that they can accuse me of whatever they want without having him speak out. If it was not for his efforts, I would have been stoned to death by now."

Asked why she thought the state wanted to execute her, she said:

"The answer is quite simple. It's because I'm a woman. It's because they think they can do anything to women in this country. It's because for them adultery is worse than murder--but not all kinds of adultery. An adulterous man might not even be imprisoned, but an adulterous woman is the end of the world for them. It's because I am in a country where women do not have the right to divorce their husbands and are deprived of their basic rights."

She thanked people around the world who have supported her cause and said international pressure was her only hope for release."

On Monday afternoon, the number of signatures calling for her release on a petition posted at freesakineh.org passed 157,000. That was up 13,000 in one week or almost 2,000 signatures a day, double the rate of the previous week and indicating that the international drive was not fading.
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Publication:Iran Times International (Washington, DC)
Date:Aug 13, 2010
Words:446
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