Iran stoning halted following protests, Oslo official says


Fri, Jun 22, 2007 - Page 6

Iranian judicial authorities have halted the planned stoning to death of a man and woman convicted of adultery following protests from Norway and other Western nations, the Norwegian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

An Iranian justice official denied that any such stoning had been planned.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere summoned the Iranian ambassador to Oslo on Wednesday after an Iranian human rights activist said the man and woman were set to be stoned to death yesterday in Qazvin Province.


In a statement, Stoere said he had told the ambassador that "stoning is a barbarian punishment" which violated human rights.

He also told the ambassador that the Norwegian parliament's foreign affairs committee would likely cancel a planned visit to Iran next week if the stoning was carried out.

Later on Wednesday, Stoere told Norwegian news agency NTB that he had received information that Iranian judicial authorities had stayed the planned execution.

Western diplomats in Tehran had also raised the issue with Iranian authorities, a Norwegian Foreign Ministry official said. Speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, the official said the Western protests may have influenced the Iranian authorities.

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However, the head of the justice department in Qazvin Province, Hassan Qassemi, denied that a stoning had been planned.

Qassemi was quoted by the semi-official Fars news agency as saying that the "implementation of the verdict of stoning which was announced by some people, has not been true."

Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, an Iranian human rights activist living in Norway, said he had urged the Norwegian government to act after learning that a woman named Mokarrameh Ebrahimi would be stoned to death together with a man with whom she had an 11-year-old child.