Woman sentenced to death by stoning may be spared

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The Independent Online

A woman sentenced to death by stoning after being convicted of adultery may be spared, as Iran struggles to mute international outcry over the case.

Comments by officials, however, offered no clear evidence that Iran's judiciary would commute the sentence against Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who was taken from prison on Saturday to meet journalists in another bid by Iran to highlight her purported confession of helping her lover kill her husband. Ashtiani – who has previously appeared on state-run TV – denied she has been tortured in prison and admitted she was an accomplice to the murder. Security officials were present as she spoke.

Iranian authorities also used her brief appearance to rebuff efforts to free two German reporters arrested after trying to interview Ashtiani's son, who helped ignite the international campaign against the stoning sentence. Ashtiani said she planned to sue the two Germans and others if she was released. The threat of lawsuits was seen a warning to international activists and media.

Malek Ajdar Sharifi, the head of justice department of East Azerbaijan province, where Ashtiani is jailed, told a news agency her case was still under review and the stoning sentence could be lifted. "Everything is possible," he said.

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