The Guardian: Iran yesterday confirmed that a court has sentenced a 21-year-old woman to death for prostitution, but denied reports that she had a mental age of eight. Leyla Mafi was sentenced to death more than a year ago for having illegal sex. The sentence is being reviewed by the supreme court. Hanging is the usual form of execution in Iran. The Guardian

Associated Press in Tehran

Iran yesterday confirmed that a court has sentenced a 21-year-old woman to death for prostitution, but denied reports that she had a mental age of eight.

Leyla Mafi was sentenced to death more than a year ago for having illegal sex. The sentence is being reviewed by the supreme court. Hanging is the usual form of execution in Iran.

The human rights group Amnesty International said last week that Ms Mafi had the mental capacity of an eight-year-old.

Yesterday, Muhammad Pourianmehr, a judicial official, said Ms Mafi was in full mental and physical health and had confessed. Ms Mafi started working as a prostitute when she was 14, he said, and had two children, now in a state orphanage.

Amnesty had said the woman's mother had forced her into prostitution when she was eight. It said she was raped repeatedly and had a baby when she was nine.

Amnesty said that as a party to the international convention on civil rights, Iran had promised not to execute anyone for crimes committed while they were under 18.

Mr Pourianmehr said Ms Mafi had been working as a prostitute as an adult.

Last summer, a 16-year old girl, widely said to be suffering from a psychological disorder, was executed in Neka, in northern Iran, on charges of having an illegal sexual relationship.

Under Iranian law, girls over the age of nine and boys over 15 face execution if they commit crimes punishable by death, such as murder and rape. Under certain conditions, capital punishment is imposed for those engaging in an illegal sexual relationship.