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Marina Nemat

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Separating Fact From Fiction in Sakineh's Case

Posted: 12/12/10 04:39 PM ET

The new Sakineh confession broadcast on Press TV on Saturday, December 11, is the new episode of the strange "reality" show that the Iranian regime has staged around her case. Even though I have been following this case very closely, it has become difficult for me to keep track of all the new stories that the Iranian authorities have regularly added to it. It seems that they are trying to confuse the world, and I'm afraid that they have been very successful in doing just that.

For those of you who, for the sake of the truth, would like to get to the bottom of this situation, I have a piece of advice: stick to the basics. Actually, the basic facts about this case are very simple and you don't need to be a lawyer to understand them. They are:

What is Sakineh's crime? Is it having have had a hand in her husband's murder or is it adultery? Maybe both? Okay, let's assume it's both. Sakineh was tried in 2006 for having had an illicit relationship with 2 men after the death of her husband, for which she was sentenced to 99 lashes, a sentence that was carried out. Later, as one of those men was on trial for the murder of Sakineh's husband, she was suspected of having been an accomplice in the murder and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. In the meantime, the man accused of the murder was found guilty but walked away. However, later, the case was reopened because someone in the system decided that Sakineh had had the illicit relationship with the 2 men before her husband's death, which would change the situation altogether, because now her crime was adultery, for which the punishment could be stoning. And Sakineh was subsequently sentenced to death by stoning. After this, her son, Sajjad, reached out to the world and asked all of us to save his mother. This brought world-wide attention to the case, and made the Iranian authorities uncomfortable, because no matter what religion or ideology one believes in, it is not difficult to agree that stoning is barbaric. After the website that was created in support of Sakineh quickly collected hundreds of thousands of signatures, Iranian authorities did everything in their power to convince the world that Sakineh's punishment had nothing to do with adultery, but it was all about her having had a hand in the murder of her husband. So, we were told that she could be hanged instead of stoned to death. But hadn't she already been sentenced to prison for the same crime? According to Iranian law, people cannot be stoned for having committed murder; stoning is a punishment only for adultery.

If there was a rule of law in Iran, Sakineh would not have been subjected to punishment for the same crime more than once, but it seems like she has received 2 sentences for having allegedly committed adultery and also for having allegedly been involved in killing her husband.

If there was a rule of law in Iran, Sakineh's first and second lawyers would not have been persecuted: her first lawyer, Mohammad Mostafai, had to escape Iran after his wife was arrested and kept hostage by the Iranian authorities so that he would give himself up. However, he escaped the country and is in Norway now. Her second lawyer, Houtan Kian, is in prison in Iran right now. He was arrested a few weeks ago for having dared to defend her.

If there was a rule of law in Iran, Sakineh's son Sajjad, would not have been arrested for simply asking the world to save his mother.

If there was a rule of law in Iran, Press TV would not have been allowed to take Sakineh out of the prison and force her to make a public confession in a terrible, humiliating, and inhumane way.
If there was a rule of law in Iran, the man who actually killed Sakineh's husband would have been in prison. Also, if Sakineh committed adultery with him, then I think it's safe to say that he committed adultery with her. Yet he walked away and she was the one sentenced to being stoned to death.

The recent televised confession of Sakineh, which was filmed in her home and in the presence of her son, has, very unfortunately, made some people believe that she is guilty and deserves to die, but they are terribly wrong. Her confession is meaningless. I was imprisoned in Evin prison at the age of 16 for 2 years, 2 months, and 12 days. During this time, I was tortured, raped, and threatened that if I didn't cooperate, my family would be harmed. I signed every piece of paper they gave me without even reading it. I would have confessed to anything under torture to stop the pain. I cooperated, so my family was safe, and if they had arrested one of my loved ones, I would have done anything to save him/her. Sakineh's son is now in prison. Put yourself in her shoes. Wouldn't you have confessed to murder if it would save your son? I know I would.