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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 December, 2004, 18:08 GMT
Death penalty in Iran 'vice' case
Iranian officials have confirmed that a court has sentenced a young woman to death for prostitution but denied that she is mentally disabled.

Leyla Mafi was sentenced more than a year ago at a court in Arak after being found guilty of having illegal sex.

A human rights group monitoring the case said Ms Mafi had a mental age of eight, but this has been disputed by Iranian judicial officials.

The decision is now under review by the Iranian Supreme Court.

Ms Mafi's case was given international exposure last week by London-based rights group Amnesty International.

They said Iran was breaking its commitments as a party to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights - which include a promise not execute anyone under the age of 18.

The organisation said the woman's mother had forced her into prostitution at the age of eight.

It also said she had been repeatedly raped and had given birth to a baby at the age of nine.

Iranian officials have rejected some of the group's findings.

They say Ms Mafi is mentally and physically normal and had only been working as a prostitute as an adult.

Under Iranian law, girls over the age of nine and boys over 16 face the death penalty for crimes such as rape and murder.

In some circumstances, capital punishment is also imposed for illegal sexual relationships.




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