Iran slams ‘media silence’ over looming execution of US woman

2010-09-21 11:57

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has condemned the “media silence” over the impending execution of a US woman for ordering the murder of her husband and stepson, according to IRNA news agency.

“A woman is being executed in the United States for murder, but nobody protests against it,” Ahmadinejad told a group of Islamic figures in the United States yesterday, according to IRNA, Iran’s official news agency.

He was referring to Teresa Lewis (41), who is due to be executed in the state of Virginia on Thursday despite her supporters arguing that she has diminished mental faculties.

Iran has been under international pressure to spare the life of 43-year-old mother Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to death by stoning for adultery in 2006.

Iran says it has suspended the stoning sentence, but Mohammadi Ashtiani is also accused of participating in the murder of her husband and a final decision about her verdict is still pending.

Ahmadinejad denounced the “Western media storm” in Ashtiani’s case.

“There are 3.7 million internet pages about this woman. Her case is not final yet, but Iran is being heavily attacked,” he said.

Unless the US Supreme Court intervenes, Lewis will die by lethal injection on Thursday, the first woman to be put to death in Virginia since Virginia Christian, a 17-year-old who died in the electric chair in 1912.

Abolitionists paint Lewis as a classic example of why capital punishment is flawed, saying the mother and grandmother has diminished mental faculties and was taken advantage of by smarter accomplices.

But with an IQ hovering at 70 or above, Lewis was considered fit for trial in Virginia and she pleaded guilty to hiring two men to murder her husband and stepson to pocket their $350 000 life insurance policy.

Several Iranian MPs have protested in past weeks against her imminent execution and accused Western governments and the media of “double standards” in their approach to the fate of the two women.

The United States is among the countries that execute the most people each year, along with China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.

Iran, which says the death penalty is essential to maintain public security and is applied only after exhaustive judicial proceedings, has executed more than 110 people so far this year.

Murder, rape, armed robbery, drug trafficking and adultery are all punishable by death in the Islamic republic.

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