Friday, October 15, 2010

Belgium: Iranian stoning woman's ex-lawyer wants to meet the pope

France's Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner (L) helps Mohammad Mostafaei, the lawyer of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, to put his headphones during a press conference on September 6, 2010 in Paris

Brussels,14 Oct. (AKI) - The former lawyer for the Iranian woman condemned to death by stoning for adultery and helping kill her husband, has said he wants to meet Pope Benedict XVI and discuss human rights with him.

"I want to talk to the pope about the dire state of human rights in Iran and in other countries," Mohammad Mostafaei told Adnkronos International (AKI).

Until August, he was the stoning-sentenced Iranian woman Sakineh Mohammad Ashtiani's lawer.

"The pope could play a major role in upholding human rights in the world and in bringing about about peace, as he cares about these things," Mohammad Mostafaei said.

Mostafaei in August fled to Norway from Iran, after the Iranian government tried to arrest him. He spoke to AKI in Brussels, where he was attending a debate on human rights in Iran at the European Parliament.

Ashtiani's stoning sentence for adultery has been suspended but there are concerns she may still be hanged for her role in her husband's murder. Her son Sajjad Ghaderzade and her current lawyer Javid Hutan Kian were arrested last week together with two German journalists who were interviewing them.

The fate of Ashtiani, her son and her teenage daughter "and all the other victims of the regime" will depend on the political climate in Iran, Mostafaei said.

"But Sakineh is now much safer and in much better condition than she was before, thanks to the international campaign that has been launched to save her life," he added.

Mostafaei was reported to have links to a human rights group which supplied pictures of a bare-headed Iranian woman, allegedly Ashtiani, that were published by the London Times.

Iran' authorities responded to the photos by sentencing Ashtiani to 99 lashes, although it is not known if the sentence has been carried out.

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