Britain's Hague calls on Iran to halt 'barbaric' stoning
Visiting British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Wednesday urged Iran to call off the planned execution by stoning of a woman convicted of adultery.
A human rights group has warned that 43-year-old mother-of-two Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani is facing imminent execution at Tabriz prison in western Iran after being convicted of adultery.
"This is a barbaric punishment and I think it will damage Iran in the eyes of the world," Hague told journalists after meeting Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
"I would urge them, even now, to desist from it," Hague said.
Mohammadi-Ashtiani was sentenced to death by two different courts in the northwestern Iranian city of Tabriz in separate trials in 2006.
The first death sentence, of death by hanging, was imposed for her alleged involvement in the murder of her husband, but was commuted to a 10-year jail term by an appeals court in 2007.
But the second sentence, of death by stoning, was on a charge of adultery levelled over several relationships, notably with the man convicted of her husband's murder. This was upheld by another appeals court the same year.
Mohammadi-Ashtiani's case raised further international controversy when her adult son Sajjad Qaderzadeh and lawyer were arrested last month in Iran, along with two German nationals, who were reportedly interviewing the son.
© 2010 AFP