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Fear For Iranian Woman Facing Death By Stoning

A lawyer and activist close to the case of an Iranian woman convicted of adultery say she may soon be stoned to death, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

Women's rights activist Soheila Vahdati spoke to Radio Farda on June 17 about the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. Ashtiani, who has two children, has been imprisoned in the northwestern Iranian city of Tabriz since 2005.

Vahdati says Sakineh was earlier sentenced to 99 lashes in 2006 for having "illicit relationships." The sentence was subsequently carried out and her case was closed.

But authorities later charged Ashtiani with murder. Prosecutors alleged that Ashtiani and her boyfriend had killed her husband.

In making the murder case against Ashtiani, activist Vahdati says the court "illegally" reopened the adultery case against Ashtiani. It was the second time Ashtiani would be tried for the same alleged adulterous conduct.

According to Vahdati, Ashtiani was sentenced to be stoned to death for the same alleged act of adultery for which she earlier had been convicted to 99 lashes. It is not clear when she was sentenced.

While denying the charges against her, Ashtiani has asked the authorities for a pardon.

According to activist Vahdati, Ashtiani told the authorities, "if I have done any wrong, I repent."

Her clemency request was rejected.

Lawyer Mohammad Mostafaie, who represents Ashtiani, also maintains her innocence. Writing on his personal blog, the lawyer described Ashtiani's stoning as imminent and said his client will be executed "for an offense she has not committed."

According to Article 83 of the Laws of Islamic Punishment in Iran, ratified in 1991, the penalty for adultery is death by stoning.

However, murder is not punishable in Iran by stoning. Murderers who receive the death sentence are hanged.