Cannot help Iranian woman due to court order: Swaraj

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New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today expressed inability in helping a British woman charity worker of Iranian origin who has been sentenced to one year imprisonment by a court in Odisha on charges of causing death of a tribal child due to negligence.

Swaraj had sought a report from Odisha government on the case involving 28-year-old Narges K Ashtari.

She said she cannot help the woman due to the court order.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif earlier this week has said that Iran will use all its capacity to secure Ashtari’s release.

“I have received the report from Government of Odisha. The trial court has convicted Narges K Ashtari to one year imprisonment and Rs 3 lakh fine.

“She has filed an appeal before Sessions Court which is pending. The appellate court has released her on bail pending appeal. This is a judicial order and the matter is sub judice.

Therefore, I am unable to help in this case @BorisJohnson @JZarif,” Swaraj said in a series of tweets.

She also tagged Zarif as well as British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson in her tweets.

Ashtari, who runs an orphanage through her NGO Prishan Foundation in Rayagada district of Odisha, was found guilty by a court in the case relating to causing death to a child due to negligence.

She faced the charges after the disappearance of the child in 2014, who is feared drowned.

An online petition by social activists has recently sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention in seeking justice for Ashtari saying she has dedicated her life in serving orphan and abandoned children around the world.

Earlier this week, the Iranian Foreign Minister had said “The Foreign Ministry considers it its duty to protect Iranian nationals residing abroad, including students, elites and businessmen… and will use all its capacity to support them and restore their rights.”

He said the Iranian Foreign Ministry and Iran’s embassy in New Delhi are following up on her case though diplomatic, consular and legal channels.

Born in Isfahan, central Iran, Ashtari’s parents moved to the UK when she was four years old.

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