Iran may execute woman on adultery charges

An Iranian woman who was sentenced to death by stoning for adultery may be hanged for murder instead, according to a human rights group...

Concerns are growing over the fate of an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning after a rights group said she could soon face the death penalty.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she was ‘deeply troubled’ by the reports that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, 43, would be executed imminently. Iran suspended her stoning sentence for adultery but has said she could still be hanged for her husband’s murder.

‘The authorities in Tehran have given the go ahead to Tabriz prison for the execution of Iran stoning case Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani,’ according to the German-based International Committee Against Stoning. The group said it had information she would be executed yesterday. However, this morning, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said that an Iranian source claimed no final decision has been made about her fate.

According to Sky News, Kouchner said that Manouchehr Mottaki, his Iranian counterpart, assured him that a final verdict in Ashtiani’s case has not been issued yet and reports about her eventual execution were not true.

Ms Ashtiani’s case has provoked a worldwide outcry with leading political and religious figures condemning her original sentence as medieval and barbaric. Mrs Clinton said the US was calling on Iran to ‘immediately halt any plans for Ms Ashtiani’s execution’.

Ms Ashtiani was originally convicted of adultery several years ago and sentenced to death by stoning. Her case rose to international prominence and in July reports emerged that she had been sentenced to death for the murder of her husband.

The case has worsened relations between Iran and the West, already strained by a dispute over Tehran’s nuclear programme.

According to Amnesty International, Iran is second only to China in the number of executions it carries out. It put to death at least 346 people in 2008.

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