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'No decision' on Iran stoning woman

Iran has insisted no final decision had been made on the fate of a woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery.

Iran's foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki made the announcement after fears rose in the West that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani's execution was imminent.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Mr Mottaki had assured him that a final verdict in Ms Ashtiani's case has not been made yet and that reports "about her eventual execution don't correspond to reality".

Iran has temporarily suspended the stoning verdict and suggested Ms Ashtiani might be hanged instead.

Mr Kouchner said France was "very worried" about the case.

The International Committee against Stoning and International Committee against Execution said earlier this week that Iran had given the go-ahead for Ms Ashtiani's execution, and that it could happen on Wednesday.

Its report raised alarm in western capitals.

Ms Ashtiani was first convicted in May 2006 of having an "illicit relationship" with two men after the death of her husband - for which a court in Tabriz sentenced her to 99 lashes.

Later that year she was also convicted of adultery, despite having retracted a confession, which she claims was made under duress.

Her case has further raised tensions between Iran and the West, already running high over suspicions about Tehran's nuclear ambitions.


From Belfast Telegraph