Death by Stoning: Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani Faces Brutal Death, Sparking International Outrage

World waits to learn whether mother of two will be stoned for alleged adultery.

July 9, 2010, 5:52 PM

July 9, 2010— -- The world's eyes are on Iran tonight, waiting to learn whether Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, a 43-year-old mother of two charged with adultery, will be stoned to death or whether her life will be spared.

Mohammadi-Ashtiani currently sits in an Iranian prison, still uncertain of her fate, though she and her family vehemently have denied her alleged crime.

Watch "World News" for more on the fate of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani.

Earlier today, the Iranian embassy in London seemed to spare her, saying, "Sakineh will not be executed by stoning."

But tonight, her lawyer in Tehran told ABC News that he's far from convinced by the embassy's words.

"The statement is not from the judiciary and is ambiguous," said attorney Mohammad Mostafaei. "I'm still worried she could be stoned at any minute."

Since 2006, seven Iranians have been put to death by the brutal method of stoning, following an arcane set of rules. Men are buried up to their waists and women to their chests, and the stones thrown at them, the penal code says, must be neither large enough to kill instantly nor too small to be called a stone.

"It's a particularly gruesome method of punishment," said Iranian dissident Potkin Azarmehr today, arguing that the punishment is used to give power to the Iranian regime. "It can only bring fear to the people, and dictatorships thrive on fear."

Standing up to that fear, Mohammadi-Ashtiani's own young son helped start a vibrant campaign to save her, releasing a letter calling on the world to help save his mother.

Possible Stoning Sparks International Protests

The stoning sentence also has sparked international protests, including one today in London where protesters put on a mock stoning to illustrate the gruesome practice. For opponents of the Iranian government, it is more proof of just how brutally the regime treats its own people.

"In the 21st century, you can't even imagine that you could stone a person -- a woman or a man -- to death," said Shiva Mahbobi of the organization Free Political Prisoners in Iran.

Ten other men and women in Iran face the same violent death by stoning that supporters fear soon could come to Mohammadi-Ashtiani. Even if she isn't stoned tonight, her supporters are fearful of her fate.

"As it stands, I'm not sure what's going to happen to her," lawyer Mostafaei said. "Will she be released? Executed by another means?"

The world and Mohammadi-Ashtiani can only wait.

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