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File photo of Ashtiani released by Iranian state-run Press TV. AP Photo/Press TV

Ashtiani's death sentence suspended, says human rights campaigner

Reports suggest death sentence of Iranian woman condemned for adultery and the murder of her husband was never actually confirmed.

IRAN HAS SUSPENDED THE death sentence of a woman whose proposed execution was condemned by political leaders around the world.

According to a letter from an Iranian human rights campaigner to Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s execution has been suspended.

The campaigner, who is head of the Iranian parliament’s human rights committee, claims the stoning sentence was never actually confirmed, Reuters reports.

Ashtiani was initially sentenced to be killed by stoning after being convicted in 2006 of adultery. That sentence was commuted over the summer after international outcry, but a second death sentenced for murdering her husband was upheld.

However, a judicial official said today that the final verdict on Ashtiani’s case has not been issued yet and no changes have been made.

The New York Times reports that this death sentence may now be commuted to a prison sentence with her children’s consent in accordance with Islamic law which permits the family of a murder victim to spare the murderer. Ashtiani could be spent 10 years in prison instead.

Conflicting reports over Ashtiani’s fate emerged in early November, when the BBC quoted a human rights group as saying her death by hanging had been scheduled. The French foreign minister denied those reports, saying he had spoken with an Iranian minister on the issue.

The human rights group International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI) said that 47 people have been hanged in Iran this year – an average of about one person every eight hours since the start of January.