A senior judiciary official said Sunday that the stoning sentence handed to Sakineh Ashtiani, an Iranian woman accused of adultery, could be stayed. Ashtiani, who has been jailed since 2006, appeared before the international press on Saturday.
AFP - The sentence of death by stoning handed down by an Iranian court against a mother of two could be quashed, a senior judiciary official said on Sunday, adding that some ambiguities remained in her case.
When asked by Fars news agency whether the stoning sentence against Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani could be quashed, Malek Ajdar Sharifi, the head of East Azerbaijan judiciary, said that "anything is possible."
Sharifi's remark came a day after Sajjad Ghaderzadeh, the son of Mohammadi Ashtiani, pleaded for her execution by stoning to be stayed.
Sharifi also said that certain "ambiguities" still remained in the "evidence" gathered in Mohammadi Ashtiani's case, and this was causing the delay in taking a final decision over the verdict.
The cleric said it is easy to issue a verdict in a case where the murderer clearly confesses to his crime.
"But in this case where the defendant (Mohammadi Ashtiani) denies or makes justifications and there are ambiguities in the evidence, the procedure gets prolonged," he said when asked why a final verdict in her case was still not taken.
Mohammadi Ashtiani, whose stoning sentence for adultery has triggered an outcry in the West, was tried and is being held in Tabriz, the capital of East Azerbaijan province in northwest Iran.
On Saturday, Sharifi's office arranged for Mohammadi Ashtiani to appear in front of a group of reporters from international news networks.
In her remarks to reporters, made in the presence of judiciary officials, she said that she would sue two German reporters and an anti-stoning activist from Germany for "disgracing" her and Iran.
Mohammadi Ashtiani was sentenced to death by two different courts in Tabriz in separate trials in 2006.
Her 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.
Mohammadi Ashtiani, who was joined by her children on Saturday when she spoke to the media, did not make any plea for clemency.
Date created : 2011-01-02