Iranian justice system 'in tatters', say critics

Iranian justice system 'in tatters', say critics

By agency reporter
16 Aug 2010

Human rights groups have criticised the TV 'confession' of an Iranian woman last Wednesday night in which Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, awaiting execution by stoning for adultery, appears to implicate herself in the murder of her husband.

The interview was broadcast on Wednesday 11 August, on the '20:30' program by Seda va Sima, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting.

Televised 'confessions' have repeatedly been used by the authorities to incriminate individuals in custody. Many have later retracted these 'confessions', stating that they were coerced to make them, sometimes under torture or other ill-treatment.

“This so-called confession forms part of growing catalogue of other forced confessions and self-incriminating statements made by many detainees in the past year.” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

“Statements made in such televised exchanges should have no bearing on Iran's legal system, or the call to review her case. This latest video shows nothing more than the lack of evidence against Sakineh Ashtiani”, said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

It is understood that last week, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s lawyer, Javid Houtan Kiyan, submitted a 35-page request for a judicial review of her case, a response is expected on or around 15 August.

“It appears that Iran’s authorities have orchestrated this 'confession', following the call for a judicial review and now appear to be inventing new charges of murdering her husband,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director at Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa programme.

Unconfirmed reports that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has recently been tortured or ill-treated while in Tabriz Central Prison underscores Amnesty International’s concern.

“Having Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani broadcast in this manner calls into question the independence of the judiciary, at least vis-a-vis the state broadcaster, and its ability to adhere to Iran's own laws. If the judiciary in Iran is to be taken seriously, this 'confession' needs to be disregarded and assurances given that it will not affect the review of her case” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

[Ekk/3]

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