Iran frees stoning woman: German campaign group

9th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

Iran has freed a woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, her son and her lawyer, a German-based campaign group told AFP Thursday after global outcry over the case.

"We have got news from Iran that they are free," Mina Ahadi, spokeswoman for the Anti-Stoning Committee, told AFP.

"We are waiting for another confirmation: apparently there will be a programme this evening on (Iranian) television and then we will be 100 percent sure."

There was no immediate confirmation from Tehran.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini immediately hailed the reported release and lauded it as "a great day for human rights."

"Iran has made the gesture of understanding and clemency that we were hoping for and it did so using its prerogative as a sovereign state," he said.

"It's a decision that merits strong praise and satisfaction," he said. "We take note of this in the knowledge that the prospect for dialogue with Iran also on human rights can resume in a spirit of renewed mutual confidence."

Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, a 43-year-old mother of two, was initially given death sentences by two different courts in the northwestern city of Tabriz in separate trials in 2006.

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

But a second sentence, to death by stoning on charges of adultery levelled over several relationships, notably with the man convicted of her husband's murder, was upheld by another appeals court the same year.

Sakineh's current lawyer, Javid Houtan Kian, was arrested in the northwestern city of Tabriz in September along with two Germans who were conducting an interview with her son.

The Germans, who entered Iran on tourist visas, are accused of spying.

Rejecting the international outcry over the death sentence, the head of Iran's High Human Rights Council drew parallels between her case and that of Teresa Lewis, a 41-year-old American grandmother who was executed in the United States in late September for murder.

"Our judiciary made a lot of efforts (in reviewing the case) and we think there is a good chance her life could be saved," Mohammed Javad Larijani told Iran's English-language Press TV in November.


© 2010 AFP

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