Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani
Iranian authorities have reportedly suspended the death by stoning sentence inflicted on a woman convicted of adultery, the foreign ministry said Wednesday, after weeks of condemnation from around the world.
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani was convicted of adultery - a capital crime in the Islamic Republic – in 2006. She also has been charged with involvement in her husband's murder.
Her sentencing sparked an international outcry and global condemnation, the most recent one by the European Parliament.
In its first public statement on case, Catholic Church raises possibility of using behind-the-scenes diplomacy to try to spare life of widow sentenced to be stoned for adultery
The EUP condemned the sentence, saying it "can never be justified or accepted." Wednesday's condemnation at the parliament in Strasbourg, France, comes on the heels of European Union Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso calling the practice "barbaric."
The resolution condemning Tehran won by a huge 658-to-1 margin with 22 abstentions.
The parliament also called for the overturning of several other cases in Iran that it sees as contradicting Western human rights standards.
"The verdict regarding the extramarital affairs has stopped and it's being reviewed," Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told Tehran's state-run English-language Press TV.
Mehmanparast said the murder charge was "being investigated for the final verdict to be issued".
Iranian media have suggested that the stoning sentence, imposed for certain crimes under Sharia Law which Iran adopted after the 1979 Islamic revolution, would not be carried out, but that Ashtiani might still be executed by hanging.
"We think that this is a very normal case," Mehmanparast said. "This dossier looks likes many other dossiers that exist in other countries."
The Iranian FM blamed the United States for stirring the furore to hurt Iran's international image as it faces sanctions aimed at curbing its nuclear program.
According to Amnesty International, Iran is second only to China in the number of people it executes. It put to death at least 346 people in 2008.
Murder, adultery, rape, armed robbery, apostasy and drug trafficking are all punishable by death in Iran.
AP and Reuters contributed to this report
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