A woman in Iran sentenced to death on charges of adultery may yet be executed by hanging, rather than the original sentence of stoning.
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s case provoked an international outcry, after Iranian courts sentenced the 43-year-old to death by stoning in 2006. Now however, a judiciary official in Iran has said Ashtiani may be executed either by stoning or hanging.
Malek Ajdar Sharifi, head of the justice department in the East Azerbaijan province where Ashtiani is currently imprisoned, has said that authorities are discussing Ashtiani’s execution.
Ashtiani was originally convicted for having an “illicit relationship” with two men after the murder of her husband in 2005. At first she was sentenced to 99 lashes, which Amnesty International says have been inflicted on her.
Since her initial conviction, she was also prosecuted for adultery, and was sentenced to be stoned. That brought about a further outcry, and a petition signed by more than 80 actors, artists, musicians, academics and politicians. The petition, which called on Iran to release Ashtiani, was signed by Robert Redford, Robert De Niro, Sting, Colin Firth, artist Damien Hirst, Nobel literature laureates Wole Soyinka and VS Naipaul, British opposition leader Ed Miliband and former French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner.
The petition was Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ashtiani’s son and lawyer have also been imprisoned.
The Ashtiani case is taking place when tensions between Iran and the west are running at a high. Iran is reportedly assembling a nuclear bomb, a move that has set hawks in Washington and Israel talking about a ‘military intervention.’
A ‘Free Sakineh’ online petition can be viewed HERE.