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Judicial CP - June 2006

Corpun file 17788, 23 June 2006

Iranian woman spared by European rights court

LONDON, June 23 (IranMania) - The European Court of Human Rights held unanimously that repatriating a woman from Turkey to Iran, where she is sentenced to receive 100 lashes, would violate her human rights, AFP reported.

The seven judges, including one from Turkey, ruled that deporting the woman, identified in the judgment simply as "P.S.", to face such a punishment in her homeland would constitute "inhuman treatment".

The star-crossed story of P.S. began in Iran a decade ago when, as a 20-year-old Shia Muslim, she fell in love with a slightly older Sunni Muslim of Kurdish origin.

Her brother and father, both members of the Iran's intelligence service, vehemently opposed their proposed marriage, so the couple eloped, a violation of strict Islamic Sharia law.

Two days after their wedding on September 26, 1996 the newlyweds were arrested, and P.S. was forced to undergo a virginity test. An Islamic court voided the marriage and fined the ill-fated lovers 30,000 rials each.

The sum, roughly equivalent to three dollars (euros), was symbolic, but the punishment was not: 100 lashes in public for both P.S. and her husband A.D., even though they had since remarried in a Shia ceremony with her father's blessing.

Because they were condemned for "fornication", the "sentence fell into the category known as 'haad,' meaning that it is irrevocable," the judgment by the European Court of Human Rights, the tribunal of the Council of Europe, explained.

A.D. received his whipping a few months later, but P.S.'s corporeal punishment was delayed, at first because she was pregnant, and then later due to frail health. When no further postponement was possible, the she fled in 1999 with her daughter and husband to Turkey, where they applied for asylum at the local office of the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

In 2003 the family was denied permanent refugee status, and Turkey's immigration service issued an order for deportation. That is when P.S. appealed to the Strasbourg-based human rights court.

In Iran corporal punishment is "the standard penalty for certain categories of offences regarded as immoral, such as adultery and fornication," the court noted in making it ruling.

"The Court considered that the mere fact of permitting a human being to commit such physical violence against a fellow human being, and in public moreover, was sufficient for it to classify the sentence imposed on P.S. as 'inhuman'," the court said.

The court "noted with satisfaction" that the Turkish government had refrained from deporting her and her family during their appeal.

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