Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani
Head of the Judiciary
Vali Asr Avenue, above the intersection Pasteur, Azizi Street 2, No. 4,
Office of Public Relations and Judicial Procedures.
I am writing to you about Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, who has been sentenced to death by stoning for adultery and may now instead be sentenced to death by hanging for the murder of her husband, charges that she continues to deny and for which she has already been punished.
I understand that, in May 2006, Ms. Mohammadi-Ashtiani was sentenced to 99 lashes for having “illicit relations” and to a prison term for being an accessory to her husband’s murder. Her flogging sentence was carried out and she has already served five years in prison in Tabriz. The Sixth Branch of the Penal Court of East Azerbaijan Province took up her case again in September 2006 and re-charged and convicted her for adultery and sentenced her to stoning, despite the lack of credible evidence against her. She may now also be sentenced to death for murdering her husband.
It is my understanding that Iranian law prohibits bringing a second charge relating to an offence of which a person has already been acquitted or convicted. In the case at hand, Ms Mohammadi-Ashtiani has already been lashed for having “illicit relations” and is serving a term for being an accessory to murder.
I respectfully ask that you commute Ms. Mohammadi-Ashtiani’s death sentence. I note that women are disproportionately convicted for adultery and fornication in Iran. I urge you to remove of all provisions in the Iranian legal codes that discriminate against, or have a discriminatory impact on, women, including those regarding adultery and fornication, in accordance with Iran’s own constitutional provision for equality before the law and its international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.