Iran tells UN panel that stoning case is undecided

5th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Iran told a UN rights body on Thursday that a final decision has yet to be taken in the case of a woman sentenced to death by stoning, which has sparked an international outcry.

However, Mossadegh Kahnemoui, a senior Iranian judicial official, insisted that the woman, Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, had been found guilty of adultery and conspiracy to murder her husband.

"Her case is still being processed and nothing is yet decided," he told the UN's Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, after committee members raised questions about her fate.

"This case is still pending a final decision," added Mossadegh, a member of Iran's delegation at a regular review of the Islamic state's application of an international treaty on racial and ethnic discrimination.

He nonetheless pointed out that capital punishment applied to convictions for murder in Iran.

"This lady, in addition to double adultery, is also found guilty of conspiracy to murder her husband," he told the UN body.

Mossadegh said he could not comment further on the case while it was being judged. "We are following this and will keep you informed -- nothing is final and sure and certain," he added, speaking through an interpreter.

Mohammadi-Ashtiani, a 43-year-old mother of two, was sentenced to death by stoning after she was found guilty of adultery in 2006 by a court in Iran.

Last month, Iranian authorities temporarily halted the stoning amid mainly Western condemnation of the sentence.

She was convicted in May 2006 of having an "illicit relationship" with two men, according to London-based human rights watchdog Amnesty International.

Amnesty said she received 99 lashes under her sentence but was subsequently accused of "adultery while being married" during the trial of a man accused of murdering her husband.

Her lawyer has fled to Turkey where he requested asylum, the UN refugee agency confirmed on Wednesday, after Iranian police sought to arrest him late last month.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula last week offered to grant the woman asylum, a move that Tehran described as an "emotional" act without proper knowledge of the case.

© 2010 AFP

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