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Iran hangs seven drug traffickers, one rapist

TEHRAN (BNO NEWS) -- Eight people who were previously convicted of serious crimes including rape were hung in northern and southern Iran on Sunday, state-run media reported on Monday.

The Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) reported that an unidentified man was hung in Sari, the capital of Mazandaran Province, after he was previously convicted of raping a woman through deception and intimidation. Other details about the case were not released.

In Shiraz, the country's sixth most populous city and the capital of Fars province, seven men were hung after they were convicted of trafficking drugs. ISNA said the men already had a criminal history before they were arrested.

Murder, rape and drugs trafficking are among the crimes which are punishable by death in Iran. Dozens of people were executed across the country last month alone, including 22 convicted drug traffickers who were all hung on the same day in the Tehran suburb of Karaj.

But the most controversial execution last month took place on September 21 when 17-year-old Alireza Molla Soltani was executed after stabbing a popular athlete to death in mid-July. The teenager argued he stabbed the athlete in self-defense but a court still ordered he be executed in breach of international law which forbids executing anyone below the age of 18.

According to Amnesty International, the Iranian government acknowledged that at least 252 people were executed in Iran last year, although Amnesty's reports indicate the actual figure is more than 550. Among those executed were five women and one adult who committed his crime when he was underage.

The vast majority of those executed in Iran last year was for alleged drug trafficking, a crime authorities claim has led to the deaths of more than 4,000 police officers in recent years.

According to human rights groups, trials in Iran do often not meet international standards of fairness. Proceedings, particularly those held outside Tehran, are often summary, lasting only a few minutes. Mass trials also take place on some occasions.

In October 2010, Amnesty International reported, Iran's Interior Minister stated that the campaign against drug trafficking was being intensified and the Prosecutor General stated in the same month that new measures had been taken to speed up the judicial processing of drug-trafficking cases, including by referring all such cases to his office, thereby denying them a right to appeal to a higher tribunal as is required under international law.

Two months later, the amended Anti-Narcotics Law came into force, apparently making it easier to sentence to death those convicted of drug trafficking, according to Amnesty International. The law also extended the scope of the death penalty to include additional categories of illegal drugs such as crystal meth, possession of which became punishable by death. Under the Anti-Narcotics Law, some defendants are not granted a right to appeal as their convictions and sentences are confirmed by the state Prosecutor-General.

Family members of executed persons also faced persecution in some cases last year and were often not given the bodies of their relatives for burial. Others said that they had to pay officials in order to receive their relatives' bodies as payment for the rope used to hang them.

(Copyright 2011 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved. Info: sales@bnonews.com.)

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