The lawyer representing Sakineh Ashtiani – the Iranian lady facing the death penalty – has described Iran’s leaders as “among the worst offenders of human rights abuses”.

Mohammed Mustafei addressed MEPs on the European Parliament’s Human Rights Subcommittee on 14 October 2010 during a hearing to mark the World Day Against the Death Penalty.

Ms Ashtiani is facing death after being convicted of adultery in 2006.

Officials suspended her stoning sentence in July, but there are fears she will now be hanged.

In 2006 she was given 99 lashes after being found guilty of having had an “illicit relationship” with two men following the death of her husband.

The case has provoked international outcry, and in September the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for the death penalty in Iran to be ended immediately.

Her lawyer told MEPs that the death penalty was common practice in Iran, as well as execution of juveniles and the amputation of peoples’ limbs.

Death by stoning came into use in Iran after the 1979 revolution.

Elsewhere during the session, MEPs heard from Clive Stafford-Smith from the charity Reprieve which seeks to release people from death row.

He claimed that there were many European citizens on death row in the USA, including at least 50 foreign nationals in Californian prisons.