Iran 'stoning woman' may be hanged

2011-12-25 14:44
Tehran - A woman sentenced to death by stoning in Iran for adultery may be hanged instead, a justice official was quoted as saying by the Fars news agency on Sunday.

The woman, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, "has two sentences, one regarding adultery for which she was sentenced to stoning, and the other for being an accomplice to murdering her husband for which she received a 10-year prison term," said Malek Ajdar Sharifi, head of Iran's East Azarbaijan province's justice department.

But, "since we did not have facilities for stoning her", authorities were informed, Fars news agency quoted Sharifi as saying.

Sharifi said the chief of Iran's judiciary, Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, had responded by saying that "since the main purpose is execution then, if there are no facilities for stoning according to sharia, it could be changed to hanging".

But Larijani decided "to wait to get the view of other religious scholars and then a clear decision will be taken", according to Sharifi.

No hurry

"We said there was no hurry," as Mohammadi Ashtiani is serving her 10-year jail sentence, he said. "We are waiting for the results of deliberations."

Mohammadi Ashtiani was sentenced to death by two courts in the northwest city of Tabriz, capital of East Azarbaijan province, in separate trials in 2006.

A sentence to hang for her involvement in the murder of her husband was commuted to the 10-year jail term by an appeals court in 2007.

The second sentence, to be executed by stoning, was on adultery charges levelled over several relationships, notably with the man convicted of her husband's murder.

The stoning sentence was upheld by another appeals court the same year, in a case that drew widespread international condemnation.

But in July 2010, Iran suspended the stoning sentence pending a new examination of her case.
Sharifi earlier this year said "anything is possible" when asked by Fars news agency whether

Mohammadi Ashtiani's sentence for adultery could be overturned.

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