Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Norway's Foreign Ministry called in the Iranian ambassador to strongly protest Iran's execution by stoning of a man convicted of adultery

Nina Berglund:

Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said he was "deeply upset" by what he called an "inhumane and barbaric method of punishment."

Støre, who's supposed to be on summer holiday, said he was deeply worried that the executed man's female companion Mokarrameh Ebrahimi will suffer the same fate. Støre vowed to work with other countries to pressure Iran into blocking her stoning.

Norway's embassy in Iran has been ordered to help ensure that international representatives be allowed to visit Ebrahimi in jail.

Norway has long condemned stoning and already had lodged protests with Iranian officials. The Parliament's foreign relations committee threatened to cancel a long-planned visit to Iran late last month if the threatened stoning took place. It didn't, and the Norwegian parliamentarians proceeded with the visit to a country where state oil company Statoil does business.

It remained unclear whether the Norwegian Foreign Ministry’s strong criticism of the stoning would have any consequences on Statoil's business activities in Iran.

Iranian officials ended up allowing the stoning, admitting it took place in a rare confirmation on Tuesday. An Iranian judiciary spokesman said Jafar Kiani was stoned to death last Thursday in Aghchekand village, 200 kilometers west of the capital.

Death sentences are carried out in Iran after they are upheld by the Supreme Court. Under Iran's Islamic law, adultery is punishable by stoning.

The judiciary spokesman didn't detail how the stoning was carried out, but a male convict is usually buried up to his waist, while a female criminal is buried up to her neck with her hands also buried. Those carrying out the verdict start throwing stones and rocks at the convict until he or she dies.

International human rights groups have long condemned stoning as "cruel and barbaric" punishment. The UN human rights chief Louise Arbour condemned the execution. The UN noted that the execution was carried out despite Iran's own moratorium on execution by stoning which had been in effect since 2002.

Iran confirms man stoned to death for adultery


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