10/01/2014, 00.00
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Iran hangs man for heresy

Mohsen Amir Aslani, a 37-year-old former psychologist, taught religion, giving a new interpretation of the Qur'an. The authorities also accused him of insulting the prophet Jonah.

Tehran (AsiaNews) - A former psychologist has been executed for "corruption on earth and heresy in religion."

Mohsen Amir Aslani (pictured) was hanged in a prison near the city of Karaj west of Tehran on 24 September, according to the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), after eight years in detention. His body has not been returned to the family.

Aslani, 37, taught religious classes giving a new interpretation of the Qur'an. The authorities accused him of insulting the Prophet Jonah in one of his classes because he said that Jonah could not have emerged from the whale's belly.

According to opponents, Aslani's execution is fresh evidence of how the Islamic Republic uses the death penalty.

Iran officially executed 373 people in 2013. However, according to Cornell University's deathpenaltyworldwide database, there were between 624 and 727 last year, up from an estimated 314 to 580 in 2012.

The US-based Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre puts the total number of executions at 531 for this year.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed concern in the past over the increase in executions in Iran.

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