Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43-year-old mother of two, convicted of adultery in Iran, may be stoned to death unless a last-minute campaign saves her.
Human-rights campaigners say that Ashtiani, who says she was under duress when she confessed to adultery, could be buried up to her breasts and stoned to death as soon as this weekend.
Ashtiani has been in prison since May 2006, when she was convicted of adultery and sentenced to 99 lashes. Later that year she was accused of murdering her husband. Those charges were dropped, but an inquiry into the adultery charge was reopened. She was, according to The Guardian, sentenced to death under a rule that allows judges to cite "judge's knowledge" and convict without evidence.
Ashtiani, represented by prominent human-rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei, has failed in her appeals. AOL reports that a panel may convene as soon as Saturday to decide her fate. According to Amnesty International, the Iranian penal code specifies that "stones are large enough to cause pain, but not so large as to kill the victim immediately." Article 102 of the Penal Code states that men should be buried up to their waists and women up to their breasts for the purpose of execution by stoning. Article 104 states, with reference to the penalty for adultery, that the stones used should "not be large enough to kill the person by one or two strikes; nor should they be so small that they could not be defined as stones." Iran executed 388 people last year, mostly by hanging, leaving it second only to China in the number of people put to death, according to Amnesty International.
Ashtiani's family has launched an international appeal to save her, and human-rights campaigners claim that at least two other women also face execution by stoning. One of them, arrested at 15 years old, has reportedly even been subject to a mock stoning. It may only be a matter of days until the real thing begins.