Monday, August 30, 2010

Gonsalves begs Iran’s mercy

PRIME MINISTER Ralph Gonsalves has become the first CARICOM leader to make public a plea to the government of Iran for an Iranian woman to be spared from execution on a charge of committing adultery. The woman, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashianti, a 43-year-old mother and widow, was originally condemned to be stoned to death for that alleged crime, according to Iran’s Islamic Penal Code.

However, following a personal public appeal to the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadjinejad, by Brazil’s President Luiz Ignacio Lula daSilva, in July the Iranian authorities agreed to suspend the stoning death sentence. It, however, explained that she could still be otherwise punished by execution on other charges, including the alleged murder of her husband. In his letter earlier this month to Ahmadinejad, released at the weekend, Gonsalves, who had paid an official visit last year to Iran, pleaded “for clemency and mercy” for Ashtiani, who has already been inflicted with 99 lashes even after denying confessing to the charges against her.
The Vincentian prime minister, in addressing the Iranian president as “my dear brother Mahmoud”, said he was making his “sincere and heartfelt plea of clemency and mercy” in the same spirit as that made previously by the president of Brazil, “my dear friend and brother” for the unfortunate woman. (RS)