TEHERAN (AFP) - A young Iranian woman accused of marrying - and divorcing - 10 men in less than two years under an elaborate con trick has been charged with fraud, state media reported Sunday.
The alleged deception was made possible under Islamic rules that entitle a woman to a financial sum agreed before marriage but retrievable "on demand" any time after a ceremony takes place.
In Iran, an Islamic republic that has followed syariah law since the 1979 revolution, a soon-to-be bride sets a Mehrieh payment with her fiance - a dowry traditionally measured in gold coins.
In the case of the 20-year-old accused - who denies the charges - she married the men and immediately demanded her payment, never consummating the relationships, according to Iran, a daily newspaper.
The men had to pay half the Mehrieh payment to avoid breaking the law, but the woman said she actually agreed a 100-110 gold coin settlement, technically less than she could have claimed.
In each case, she then pressured her husbands for a divorce, the paper said.
A divorced woman in Iran can wipe her husband's name off her identity card if she can prove - using a doctor - she is still a virgin. The woman is accused of repeatedly taking such steps to conceal her past from her unsuspecting victims.
"I don't see why I have to answer these questions," she defiantly told a court investigator who had summoned all 10 husbands to court, the report said.
"I'm innocent. All my marriages have been legal and all my husbands married me at their own will and then we split up based on our differences.
"Under the law, since I was still a virgin, they had to pay half the dowry, and I would agree 100 to 110 gold coins and then would legally request my ID card to be cleaned of their names."
It remains common among Iranian women to secure their marriage with an "on demand" clause on their dowry, which often goes beyond a few hundred gold coins.
The accused's alleged money-making scheme was eventually discovered by staff at Teheran's public register office, who had become suspicious of her frequent visits to change her ID card.
A criminal court has charged her with fraud and scam in marriage and set a trial for her case, although no date for proceedings was published.