Skip to main content

EU's foreign policy chief demands Iran halt executions of woman, pastor

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 8:14 AM EST, Fri January 6, 2012
A demonstrator protests against the stoning of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani on August 5, 2010 in Berlin, Germany.
A demonstrator protests against the stoning of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani on August 5, 2010 in Berlin, Germany.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Catherine Ashton demands Iran impose a moratorium on the death penalty
  • She calls on Iran to halt the pending execution of a woman and a pastor
  • Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has been sentenced to die by stoning
  • Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been sentenced to die by hanging

(CNN) -- The Europe Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton demanded Friday that Iran halt the pending executions of a woman sentenced to die by stoning and a Christian pastor convicted of apostasy.

Ashton also called on Iran to impose an immediate moratorium on the death penalty, saying the country leads the world in the number of executions per inhabitant.

"Thousands of individuals remain at risk of execution, including Ms Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. The EU reiterates its call on Iran not to execute them," Ashton said in a written statement.

"Hundreds of individuals were executed in 2011 after grossly unfair trials, without the right of appeal and for offenses, which according to international standards should not result in capital punishment."

Ashtiani's case drew international attention after she was sentenced to die by stoning for adultery.

Iranian officials later said she would be executed, though the method of execution -- stoning vs. hanging -- was still being debated.

Ashtiani, a mother of two, will be executed as soon as a decision is reached, Iranian officials have said.

Ashtiani was convicted of adultery in 2006 and was later convicted of being an accessory to murder in her husband's death. Her family has denied that she played any role in the death.

Human rights groups and various governments have urged Iran not to execute Ashtiani. Last year, Ashton demanded that Iran stop the execution from proceeding, and British Foreign Minister William Hague called the proposed stoning a "barbaric punishment."

International pressure also has been mounting over the case of Nadarkhani, who was sentenced to death by hanging after being convicted of apostasy in 2011.

Nadarkhani is the leader of a network of Iranian house churches and was first charged with apostasy in 2010 for converting from Islam to Christianity.

An Iranian court found Nadarkhani has Islamic ancestry and, therefore, had to recant his faith. Nadarkhani was convicted and sentenced to die after refusing to recant his faith.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 7:27 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
ADVERTISEMENT