09/06/2010, 00.00
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Sentenced to stoning, Sakineh also to be whipped for photo without veil

Local sources say the sentence has already been carried out. The photo of her face without head cover published by The Times of London is said to be a fake. The Vatican shows concern for the woman’s fate, confirms it has intervened through diplomatic channels.

Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, was also given a sentence of 99 lashes that, according to local sources, has already been carried out. Her son, Sajjiad Qaderzadeh, said that this came after a photo appeared in The Times of London that allegedly showed the woman without head cover.

"Publishing the photo provided a judge an excuse to sentence my poor mother to 99 lashes on the charge of taking a picture unveiled," Qaderzadeh said.

The incriminating photo was taken in prison, showing a woman without a veil. Under Sharia, women cannot be in public without covering their heads, let alone have pictures taken of themselves. Whipping is the usual form of punishment for violators.

The Times recently published a picture, claiming it was that of Sakineh, without double-checking its veracity. The paper quickly acknowledged the error and removed her name from the photo.

In the meantime, appeals continue in the international community against the stoning sentence, which is set to take place on 10 September.

Fr Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican Press Office, yesterday said that the Holy See was "following this affair with attention." He reiterated the Vatican’s opposition to the death penalty, explaining that with respect to an appeal by the Pope on the matter, the Holy See treats human rights issues involving other states through diplomatic channels, not in public. 
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