Iranian state TV has broadcast what it claims is a confession by a woman whose sentence to death by stoning provoked an international outcry.
In the interview, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani apparently admits to adultery and to involvement in her husband’s murder. Previously, the 43-year-old had denied the adultery accusations.
But Amnesty International and the British government say Iran appears to be inventing new murder charges.
Ashtiani’s lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei, who has fled Iran and is seeking asylum in Norway, said his client’s life was in the hands of those in power. She has denounced him for publicising her case. Another lawyer has claimed that she was tortured before her alleged confession.
It is thought that the Iranian authorities may be preparing to defy their Western critics. There are fears that the woman will still be executed.
The stoning sentence has been suspended but the new focus on murder rather than adultery could pave the way for Ashtiani to be hanged. Both are crimes punishable by death under Iran’s Sharia law.