News / Middle East

Iran Suspends Stoning Sentence

Iranian authorities say a woman convicted of adultery will not be stoned to death for the crime, but she still faces murder charges in the death of her husband.

Iran's state-run TV on Wednesday quoted a spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry as saying Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani's death sentence for adultery had been suspended, but that her sentencing for "complicity in murder" was still in progress.

The stoning sentence for Ashtiani has drawn international outcry from countries and human rights groups.  On Tuesday,  European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said he was appalled by what he called a "barbaric" sentence.

In 2006, Ashtiani pleaded guilty to having a relationship with two men, following her husband's death.  She received 99 lashes as punishment.  Several months later, a separate court prosecuted one of the two men on charges of killing her husband.  The court also convicted Ashtiani  of "adultery while being married" and sentenced her to death by stoning.  She has denied the charges.

On Tuesday, foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said foreign countries should not make Ashtiani's case a human rights issue.  He said if releasing "murderers" is a human rights issue, then those nations that have criticized Iran should release all of their murderers from jail.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

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