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Iran: Woman's stoning sentence on hold

By the CNN Wire Staff
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani was sentenced to death by stoning after she was convicted of adultery.
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani was sentenced to death by stoning after she was convicted of adultery.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Iran has made previous, similar statements amid international outcry
  • This statement indicates continued attention to her murder conviction
  • The Iranian Foreign Ministry says the sentencing for murder is 'in process'

Tehran, Iran (CNN) -- Iran has put the stoning sentence of a woman convicted of adultery and murder "on hold," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told state-run Press TV on Wednesday.

While the statement did not differ greatly from previous, sometimes contradictory reports from the Iranian government about the fate of the woman, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, it did indicate continued attention to the murder aspect of her case.

"The sentencing of Ms. Ashtiani for adultery has been stopped and (her case) is being reviewed again, and her sentencing for complicity in murder is in process," Mehmanparast said.

Ashtiani was convicted of adultery in 2006 and sentenced to death by stoning, but her son and human rights activists urged help for her this summer, prompting an international outcry.

There have been conflicting reports about the murder charge, which relates to the death of Ashtiani's husband. Ashtiani's previous lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, said last month his client had been sentenced to death for the crime but that the sentence was commuted because the victim's family forgave her.

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Ashtiani, however, told the British newspaper The Guardian last month that she was acquitted of the murder in 2006. Ashtiani, who spoke to the newspaper through an intermediary, said the man who actually killed her husband was identified and imprisoned for the crime.

Mehmanparast said those concerned about Ashtiani's condition should have some consideration for the family of the victim, according to Press TV.

"Defending a person on trial for murder should not be turned into a human rights matter," Mehmanparast said.

Ashtiani gave an interview to state-run TV last month in which she said she knew about a plot to kill her husband but that she had not taken it seriously at the time.

"The man entered my life and fooled me with his words and said let's kill my husband," she said in the interview, which was criticized by human rights groups. "He fooled me and said I'll do this for you, what a bad husband, I'll take care of you. He was my husband's cousin, and he said things about my husband.

"Then I realized, when I went to prison, he had a criminal record and that this was his third criminal record, and when he said we should kill my husband, I couldn't even believe him or that my husband would die, I thought he was joking, that he had lost his mind.

"When my husband's mother was at our house one day and I went to get her medicine, I saw him there with all the tools he had bought, including electrical tools, wires and gloves. Then he killed my husband by connecting him to electricity with the electrical wires. He had told me beforehand to send my kids to their grandmother's house."

The prosecutor of East Azerbaijan Province, Malek Ajdar Sharifi, said on the same program that "the deceased was given an injection to fall asleep by his wife, then the man arrived and put him into the bath and put two electrical lines on his body and killed the deceased."

The human rights group Amnesty International criticized the interview, saying Ashtiani may have been coerced.

CNN's Gena Somra contributed to this report.

 
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