Iran suspends stoning of woman for adultery after global protest
THE Iranian government has suspended the execution by stoning of a woman convicted of adultery, the foreign ministry announced last night, after weeks of condemnation from around the world.
"The verdict regarding the extramarital affairs has stopped and it's being reviewed," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told Iran's state-run English-language Press TV.
The statement came a day after European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso called the stoning sentence against Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani "barbaric beyond words", the latest in a string of criticisms by foreign powers.
She 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.
In a live telephone interview, Mr Mehmanparast said the murder charge was "being investigated for the final verdict to be issued".
Adultery is the only crime which carries the penalty of death by stoning under the Sharia law which Iran adopted after the 1979 Islamic revolution, a lawyer said.
The death penalty for murder in Iran is by hanging.
The lawyer said Ms Ashtiani might receive 15 years' jail if convicted of being an accomplice to murder.
Human rights campaigners, intellectuals and politicians in Europe, including French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his singer wife Carla Bruni, have taken up Ms Ashtiani's cause.
Karim Lahidji, Paris-based president of the Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights, told France 24 television: "We are very happy with the result of this campaign . . . even though, to this day, no decision has been made in a court.
Mr Mehmanparast blamed the US for stirring the furore to hurt Iran's international image as it faces sanctions aimed at curbing its nuclear programme.
"It looks like they are playing a political game," Mr Mehmanparast said.