Dubai: A sentence of 40 lashes to a 75-year-old woman in Saudi Arabia, which was criticised by human rights activists, has not been carried out yet, Saudi sources have confirmed.

The woman, who was also sentenced to four months' imprisonment, was found guilty of being in the company of two men, who were not her relatives.

The convict is still in her house near the northwestern Saudi city of Hail, Saudi journalists and Human rights activist said.

"It is true that the woman is still at her house and the sentence has not been carried out [yet]," Mufreh Al Rasheidi, a Hail-based journalist told Gulf News.

Possible options

Meanwhile, Saudi sources noted that there are other possible options that might be considered other than implementing the sentence. They include pardoning her or stopping the implementation of the sentence after receiving a medical report stating that the elderly woman's health does not allow the execution.

The sentence could also be carried out without inflicting pain, considering her age.

The flogging and imprisonment sentences against the Arab woman and two Saudi men were upheld by the country's appeal court.

Many Saudi newspapers last week published a statement in which Saudi interior minister ordered the implementation of the sentence against the three. According to the statement, the woman has faced two similar sentences in the past that were also upheld by the appeal court. On Monday, Amnesty International issued a statement urging the Saudi authorities not to carry it out.

Attempts to appeal the sentences in the Supreme Court were recently rejected, said Lamri Chirouf, Saudi Arabia researcher at Amnesty International.

"We are really hoping that the Saudi authorities will accept to appeal [again] the sentence and not to carry it out," Chirouf told Gulf News. "This is what we want."

The woman, identified as Syrian national Khamisa Mohammad Sawadi, along with two Saudi Arabian men known only as Fahd and Hadyan were found guilty in March 2009 of being in the company of members of the opposite sex who are not close relatives (known as khilwa).

First trial

At their first trial, Fahd and Hadyan stated in their defence that they were delivering bread to Khamisa. Fahd argued that the offence of khilwa did not apply since he was related to Khamisa, who had breastfed him when he was a child. The court, however, rejected this argument.

One of the reasons for the rejection was that her youngest son is 10 years older than Fahd, a source said.

Khamisa and Fahd were sentenced to 40 lashes and four months' imprisonment each, and Hadyan to 60 lashes and six months' imprisonment.

The woman was also sentenced to be deported to her native Syria on completion of her prison term.