Death-by-stoning sentence 'barbaric beyond words', says EU President

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The Independent Online

The European Union has condemned as "barbaric" the stoning to death sentence passed against an Iranian woman for adultery.

In his State of the Union address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said he was appalled by the news of the sentencing, and called it "barbaric beyond words". The sentence against Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani was put on hold in July after an international outcry over the brutality of the punishment, and it is now being reviewed by Iran's supreme court. Ms Ashtiani's lawyer has said there are still worries the delayed execution could be carried out soon with the end of a moratorium on death sentences for Ramadan.

Ms Ashtiani's case points to larger divides between the West and Iran, which staunchly defends its legal codes and human rights standards as fully developed and in keeping with its traditions and values. Iranian authorities have repeatedly bristled at Western criticism, saying foreign governments overlook shortcomings in their own systems.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Ms Ashtiani faced charges of murder and infidelity and the case should not be linked to human rights.

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