08/02/2007, 00.00
IRAN
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New wave of public executions in Iran

After the execution of Kobra Rahmanpour was suspended, Iran’s judiciary hangs seven men in Mashhad. Under the gallows a banner read “Carrying out justice equals increasing security.” Since the beginning of the year, 143 executions have been carried out.

Tehran (AsiaNews) – Human rights activists did not celebrate for long after Kobra Rahmanpour’s death sentence was suspended ten days ago. The Iranian regime yesterday executed at least nine people in two different cities of the country.

The Iranian press reported that five men were hanged in one execution in downtown Mashhad, a city northwest of the capital Tehran, after being convicted of rape, abduction, taking drugs and armed robbery.

State television broadcast the executions live showing the five men hanging from the gallows under a banner that said “Carrying out justice equals increasing security.”

Two other convicts were hanged in a different neighbourhood of Mashhad.

Another two were got the noose on Wednesday in jail in Zahedan, the provincial capital of Sistan-Baluchestan province which borders Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“They were convicted of being enemies of God and propagating immorality on earth,” said a local judicial official.

Only ten days ago, on July 22, foreign and Iranian media reported that Iran's Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi had suspended the execution Kobra Rahmanpour after a worldwide campaign on her behalf.

Ms Rahmanpour killed her mother-in-law five years ago in self-defence but the dead woman’s family was convinced to take monetary payment in exchange for her life.

Despite the one success human rights groups warn that executions are up in Iran.

According to Amnesty International, execution numbers doubled to 177 in 2006. In the first seven months of 2007 143 have been executed.

In Iran the death penalty is imposed in cases of adultery, espionage, assault with a gun, drug trafficking, prostitution and apostasy.

But Iranian activists warn that the Islamic Republic might use the wave of public executions to rid itself of political prisoners, killing them off as common criminals.

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