03/13/2012, 00.00
IRAN

Death penalties rise as two men are publicly executed

In 2011, there were 65 hangings, 19 in 2020 and 9 in 2009. With today's executions, the number of public executions rises to 15 this year. The United Nations calls for a moratorium and legal guarantees for the accused. Iran slams the West for using human rights to strike at the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Teheran (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Two men were publicly hanged in Mashhad, north-eastern Iran (pictured), a day after a human rights report on Iran was released at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva that included a request for a moratorium on the death penalty.

According to official Iranian news agencies, the men were charged and convicted of involvement in 13 rape cases. They were arrested less than three months ago. The public hangings took place in Mashhad's Ferdowsi Square at 6:30 am, local time. The prisoners were identified as Akram Norouz Zahi, aka "Yasein", and Mojtaba Afshar, aka 'Saddam".

According to the Iran Human Rights annual report on the death penalty there was a dramatic increase in the number of public executions in 2011 in Iran. Sixty-five people were hanged publicly last year; that is more than three times the number in 2010 (19 public hangings) and seven times higher than in 2009 (nine public executions). This trend is continuing in 2012 where so far, at least 15 people have been hanged publicly.

Today's public executions took place just one day after the UN Special Rapporteur Ahmad Shaheed presented his report on the human rights situation in Iran at the UN Security Council meeting in Geneva.

The report criticises the dramatic increase in the number of executions, calling on the Iranian government "to seriously consider a moratorium on the death penalty for all crimes" and "allow for legal representation of accused persons at all stages of investigations."

Secretary of Iran's Human Rights Council Mohammad Javad Larijani lambasted Shaheed's report, saying it was biased.

Larijani insisted that Iran would never allow UN human rights mechanisms to become tools in the hands of US and some Western states to exert political pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran.

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