07/14/2009, 00.00
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Iran, public hanging for 13 "Sunni insurgents"

The executed were members of Jundallah, a movement linked to al Qaeda. They had organized a series of attacks in the south-east of the country, including the attack on the Shiite mosque in Zahedan. Human rights activists had demanded the suspension of the sentence and a review of the trial.

Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Iran has hanged 13 members of a Sunni rebel group, accused of a series of murders and attacks in the province of Baluchestan, in the south-east of the country. The semi-official Stateagency Fars reports that the executed are affiliated to the Jundallah (soldiers of God).

The execution took place at 6.30 this morning in the prison in the city of Zahedan, about 1,500 km south-east of Tehran. Yesterday, the official Irna agency said that in recent days, the city authorities had urged people to attend the public hanging. Sources within the country add that "some members of the group" were executed in prison.

Among the 14 sentenced to death there is also Abdulhamid Rigi, brother of Abdulmalik Rigi, leader of Jundallah. According to Tehran the Sunni rebel movement is linked to "foreign forces" in neighbouring Afghanistan, with a possible reference to al Qaeda. It is held responsible for a series of attacks, including the massacre in the Shiite mosque in Zahedan last May in which 25 people died.

Amnesty International has called for the suspension of the sentence, stressing that the defendants had not received a fair trial. Human rights activists accuse the regime of the Ayatollah of excessive use of capital punishment.

Tehran contends that it has a “deterrent effect "and is applied only after a long judicial process.

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