Iranian woman Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani sentenced to stoning death freed

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 March, 2014, 9:38pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 March, 2014, 5:50pm

An Iranian woman sentenced to die by stoning for adultery and later given a 10-year jail term instead has been allowed to leave prison, in a new twist to a case that has triggered years of criticism of Iran's rights record.

A judiciary spokesman said Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani had been given "a leave" from prison for good behaviour. He said the decision was a sign of "our religion's leniency towards women".

There was no immediate word on whether the release was subject to some form of probation.

Ashtiani, who has two children, was convicted of adultery and complicity in the murder of her husband in 2005.

A court sentenced her to be stoned in 2006 but the sentence was suspended in 2010 in the face of international pressure. Her sentence was then reduced to 10 years, for being an accessory to her husband's murder.

Iranian authorities dismiss allegations of human rights abuses, saying they are following Islamic law.

Under Islamic law, adultery may be punished by death by stoning and crimes such as murder, rape, armed robbery, apostasy and drug trafficking are all punishable by hanging.

The European Union called Ashtiani's sentence "barbaric".