TEHRAN- A man was stoned to death in Iran for adultery but the woman involved in the case repented, the judiciary said on Tuesday, suggesting her life was spared.
The Islamic Republic has been heavily criticized by the European Union, rights groups and the United Nations for stoning convicted criminals and there are official Iranian recommendations the practice should not occur.
Asked whether he could confirm that a man charged with adultery was stoned to death in the northern city of Rasht during the Iranian month that ended on March 20, judiciary spokesman Alireza Jamshidi told a news conference:
What you said about stoning is correct. But the woman repented ... Among the instances in which the sentence is not performed is when there is a repentance by the individual involved.
Iranian media said the executed man was 30 years old.
According to Iran's Islamic penal code, men convicted of adultery should be buried up to their waists and women up to their chests for stoning. Stones used should not be large enough to kill the person immediately.
In January, Jamshidi said two men convicted of adultery were stoned to death the previous month in the city of Mashhad, but a third man escaped while the punishment was being carried out.
According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, a non-governmental group based outside Iran, someone who was convicted on the basis of another's testimony and who escaped the stoning pit may have their life spared.
Iran's judiciary, which ordered a moratorium on stoning in 2002, last year said the lives of four people sentenced to stoning had been spared and the implementation of other sentences had been halted pending a review of their cases.
Iran has implemented sharia law since Iran's 1979 revolution.
Jamshidi also defended the handling of the case of Delara Darabi, 23, whose execution in a Rasht prison on Friday drew condemnations from the European Union and Western rights groups.
She was convicted of murdering her father's cousin when she was 17. The Etemad daily said she had initially confessed the crime because she believed she would be pardoned as the crime was committed when she was a minor.
Amnesty International said it was outraged at her execution and the fact that her lawyer was not informed about it.
But Jamshidi said: We have not come across any mistake by the judges on her case.
He said the judiciary preferred that such sentences were reduced to imprisonment if the victim's family agreed, but made clear Iran would not bow to outside pressure: We enforce our rules and regulations within the framework of Islamic standards.
Human rights groups have criticized Iran for sentencing juveniles to death. Iran says it only carries out the death penalty when a prisoner reaches the age of 18.