Iran to Review Stoning Sentence for Adulterer

This undated image made available by Amnesty International in London, Thursday July 8, 2010, shows Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a mother of two who is facing the punishment of stoning to death in Iran, on charges of adultery. Britain's Foreign Minister William Hague has called on the Iranian government to prevent the stoning of Ashtiani, 43 - a call that has already been endorsed by congressmen, diplomats, and rights activists on both sides of the Atlantic. Protests are reportedly planned in front of the Iranian Embassy over the weekend. (AP Photo/Amnesty International, ho)** EDITORIAL USE ONLY: NO SALES** AP Photo

Iran's top human rights official said the death by stoning sentence for a 43-year-old woman convicted of adultery is under review.

The sentence to execute Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani by stoning drew worldwide outcry after it was publicized by her lawyer, who had warned she was facing imminent execution.

British media reported late Thursday that the stoning would not occur, citing the Iranian embassy in London.

Mohammed Javad Larijani of Iran's human rights council told the state news agency late on Friday that the "review and appeal of the verdict is on the agenda," though he maintained it was not due to outside pressure.

"The hue and cry that the West has launched over this case will not affect our judges," he said. "The implementation of Islamic regulations like stoning and the headscarf have always been faced with their ugly hostility and opposition."

He added that converting sentences of stoning to alternative punishments was common.

Amnesty International, however, warned Ashtiani should not be executed by some other method, noting that three people sentenced to stoning last year were instead hanged.

"A mere change of the method of execution would not address the injustice faced by Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa deputy director in a statement Friday.

Stoning was widely imposed in the years following the revolution, and even though Iran's judiciary still regularly hands down such sentences, they are often converted to other punishments. The last known stoning was carried out in 2008, although the government rarely confirms that such punishments have been meted out.

Human Rights Watch, one of several groups publicizing Ashtiani's case, said she was first convicted in May 2006 of having an "illicit relationship" with two men following the death of her husband - for which a court in Tabriz, in northwestern Iran, sentenced her to 99 lashes.

But later that year she was also convicted of adultery, despite having retracted a confession which she claims was made under duress.

In its report Friday, the state news agency added that Western media, specifically BBC and Radio Free Europe's Farsi services, had launched a propaganda campaign over the case.
  • CBSNews

Comments

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Watch Now