Iran said it might revise a sentence of stoning to death against a woman for adultery, local media reported Saturday.
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, 43, was convicted by a court of adultery which in Iran is punished by stoning to death, while another court sentenced her to 90 lashes, DPA reported.
The sentence provoked an international outcry and several Western countries and human rights organizations called on Iran to revise the verdict.
Mohammad-Javad Larijani, secretary-general of Iran's Council for Human Rights, said while the verdict was "under revision, it did not mean that the judiciary would submit to foreign pressure.
"Stoning to death exists in our constitution and our judiciary cannot change its course just because of pressure and campaigns by the West," Larijani told official news agency IRNA.
"But the judges in our country only seldom refer to this sentence and also in this case such a sentence could either be revised or even amended, especially as another court had sentenced her to lashes," he said.
Stoning is imposed in Iran mainly as punishment for offences related to illegitimate sex, such as adultery.
Activists say Ashtiani was convicted even though her husband had died before the alleged affair occurred.
According to the LA Times, rights activists and Ashtiani's family said that during the later trial of two men accused of killing her husband, another court found her guilty of committing adultery with the suspects before her husband's death, though it cited no evidence, and sentenced her to death.
The Iranian embassy in London said Friday, Ashtiani would not be stoned to death, but her lawyer said it remained unclear what fate awaited her.
Iran's judiciary once ordered the courts to halt stoning sentences due to negative international impact and instead issue alternative sentences, but some courts continue to issue the sentence, especially in the provinces.
During the stoning process, men are buried up to their waist and women up to their necks and then stones are thrown against their head and body until they die.
But if a person would manage to escape from the hole, they are acquitted and free to go.