05/27/2009, 00.00
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Teheran halts executions and suspends hanging of minor accused of murder

Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, now 20, at the time was a minor. The court has suspended his sentencing and asked for his case to be reviewed. There are 130 on death row in Iranian prisons for crimes committed when they were underage.

Teheran (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Teheran has halted the hanging of Mohammad Reza Hadadi, condemned to death for having committed murder when he was 15 years old. The death sentence was to have been carried out in Adel Abad prison in Shiraza, southern Iran, but a Supreme Court intervention put a halt to the execution.  The decision could be due to the international outrage after the execution earlier this month of Delara Darabi.

The execution has been halted following the order of the chief of judiciary Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi. Hadadi, now aged 20, was arrested in October 2003 over the murder and condemned to death in January 2004.

Iran earlier this month hanged Delara Darabi, convicted of a murder committed when she was 17, an execution that sparked international outrage and led the Islamic republic to stop two similar hangings. Initially Delara took on all responsibility to save her then boyfriend from hanging.  Her subsequent retraction was never considered by Iranian authorities, who carried out the sentence on May 1st.

Iran is a signatory to a UN convention on children's rights which stipulates that members will not execute convicts found guilty of committing crimes as minors. Despite this the regime of the ayatollah has never shown any scruples over sentencing minors to death. Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi’s case is certainly a positive exception, but  rights groups report that more than 130 other juvenile offenders are known to face death sentences in Iran.

So far this year, Iran has hanged at least 116 people, compared with 246 in 2008. Iran applied the death penalty more than any other country apart from China in 2007, executing 335 people. Tehran says the use of the death penalty is a bid to improve security and protect society; it is used not only against assassins and drug traffickers but also against dissidents and political opponents.

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