July 10, 2007


Iran Confirms Man Was Stoned to Death

By Pamela Mortimer


Iranian officials have confirmed today that a man was stoned to death on charges of adultery.



Jafar Kiani, convicted of adultery, was stoned to death in Aghchekand village on Thursday. The village is in the northern part of the country, approximately 120 miles from the capital, Tehran. It is the first confirmation of such an execution by the government in many years.


Kiani and his domestic partner, Mokarrameh Ebrahimi, have been imprisoned for over 11 years for carrying on an adulterous relationship and having two children. Ebrahimi is also set to be stoned to death but the date for her execution has not been released. The  couple’s children also reside in the prison with their mother.


Mr. Eslahi, the judge who issued the sentence, stated that based on his “knowledge of the case”, the couple’s marriage had not been legitimate and was thereby considered to be adulterous.


Under Iran’s Islamic law, adultery is punishable by stoning; death sentences are carried out by the Supreme Court. There have been no details released on the execution, but under Islamic rulings, a male convict is typically buried up to his waist; a female criminal is buried up to her neck. Participants throw stones and rocks at the convict until s/he dies.


Also according to the Iranian law, the judge who has issued the sentence is required to be present at the execution to throw the first stone. Unofficial sources have reported that few villagers participated and that the stoning was mainly carried out by the officials and servicemen.  


Just before the confirmation announcement on Tuesday, U.N. human rights chief Louise Arbour released a statement condemning the execution.


"The execution has apparently gone ahead despite Iran's moratorium on execution by stoning, a moratorium that had been in effect since 2002," stated Jose Diaz, spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.


"Stoning is in clear violation of international law," Diaz said Tuesday. He added that Arbour considers stoning to be a “form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” that is prohibited under an international treaty to which Iran has agreed.


Norway’s Foreign Ministry stated that Iran's ambassador was summoned by Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere to protest the Kiani’s execution.


Gahr Stoere was "deeply upset" regarding the death penalty and called stoning an "inhumane and barbaric method of punishment," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Frode Andersen.


Despite the efforts of Iranian reformist legislators demanding an end to death by stoning as a punishment for adultery, they encountered severe opposition from hard-line clerics.

Capital offenses in Iran include murder, rape, apostasy, blasphemy, drug trafficking, armed robbery, adultery, prostitution, espionage, and treason.