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TV confession of woman sentenced to stoning 'a fake'

Video by Josh Vardey

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2011-01-02

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s confession to being an accomplice in her husband’s murder on Iranian state TV is a fabrication, her former cellmate Shahnaz Gholami (pictured) told FRANCE 24.

The TV ‘confession’ of an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning on an adultery conviction is a fake, according to a journalist who shared a cell with her for three months.

Iranian journalist Shahnaz Gholami was confined to the same cell as 43-year-old Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani before fleeing the country while on temporary release. Gholami was inprisoned for being overtly critical of the Iranian regime.

Gholami now lives in exile in Paris, from where she followed the recent controversy over Sakineh’s confessions on Iranian television. Gholami believes it is a fake.

Gholami told FRANCE 24, “Her words had been dubbed into Persian and she talked about many other issues.... in my opinion it was not Sakineh.”

“And even if it was Sakineh the regime exerts a very strong pressure on the prisoners... even I was put under immense pressure as a political prisoner. The authorities wanted me to make public confessions on TV but I refused.”

Gholami went on to report that Sakineh didn’t understand the words used by the Iranian judge when her death sentence was delivered because she speaks only Turkish.

“When she learned of her conviction from the mouth of the Director of the prison she was really shocked - I was beside her along with all our fellow prisoners.”

“We all were shocked and when Sakineh learned of her conviction her headscarf fell off and she fainted... the other prisoners lifted her up and helped her regain consciousness”, said Gholami.

The execution had been put on hold, amid a mounting international outcry over the sentence, but Iranian officials have insisted that justice will run its course. There are now increasing concerns that the ‘confession’ could prompt authorities in Iran to execute the mother of two.

The condemnation of Sakineh has prompted international outrage; with France urging the EU to threaten Iran with new sanctions over what the block’s foreign affairs chief Lady Catherine Ashton called “practices of another age”.

Demonstrations of support for Sakineh are set to take place on Saturday in more than 100 cities across the world. 

Date created : 2010-08-27

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