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Iran quietly backs away from stoning

TEHRAN, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Outrage over plans to stone to death a 43-year-old mother of two has prompted Iran to change its method of execution from stoning to hanging, observers say.

The Guardian reported Friday Iran is quietly changing the sentences of those awaiting death by stoning to hanging.

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The Islamic Republic's move comes after international condemnation of its plans to execute by stoning Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the mother awaiting execution. She will instead by hanged, The Guardian said.

At least 12 Iranian women and three men are awaiting execution by stoning.

Houtan Kian, who represents Mohammadi Ashtiani and two other women in Tabriz prison who have been convicted of adultery, said none will be stoned.

"All these women are convicted for adultery but Iran is trying to change their sentences after Sakineh's case has embarrassed them," Kian said.

After a speedy review, a court changed the adultery sentence for Mariam Ghorbanzadeh, 25, who was six months' pregnant and miscarried after being beaten up in the prison this week, from stoning to hanging.

Iranian law stipulates the sentence could not be carried out while she was pregnant.

Azar Bagheri, 19, imprisoned since age of 15 after her husband accused her of an extramarital relationship, had been sentenced to death for adultery but instead will receive 100 lashes.

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