Iran may be hanging up to 600 criminals a year as its use of the death penalty intensifies, a lawyer acting for many of the country’s death row prisoners has said.
Mohammad Mostafaei, who is campaigning to save 25 prisoners sentenced to death for crimes committed as minors, said he believes the true number of executions far exceeds estimates given by international human rights groups.
“I have calculated there were at least 400 executions last year, but it could be 500 to 600,” he said.
There are no official figures for Iran’s application of capital punishment, which campaigners say ranks second only to China’s. Amnesty International puts last year’s number of executions at 346, up from 317 in 2007. It says 150 have taken place already this year, an average of more than one a day.
Mostafaei’s estimate follows the execution of Delara Darabi, 22, who was hanged on May 1 for allegedly murdering a wealthy elderly relative when she was 17. She initially admitted the murder, but claimed later she was talked into falsely confessing by her boyfriend, the real culprit. Darabi’s parents learnt of her pending execution only when she called them saying she could see a hangman’s noose and pleading for them to save her.
The outcry over her death may have helped reprieve two of Mostafaei’s other clients, Amir Khaleghi and Safar Angooti, who were given stays of execution last week for murders committed when they were 16 and 17 respectively.
But the prospect of Iran lessening its use of capital punishment appears remote after nine prisoners were hanged last Wednesday, four for murder and five for drug trafficking. They included a 30-year-old woman, Zeynab Nazarzadeh, who was convicted of murdering her husband.
Iran’s Islamic legal code permits the death penalty for a range of offences in addition to murder and drug trafficking — including rape, adultery, espionage, armed robbery and being a “corruptor on earth.” Campaigners say executions have soared since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took office in 2005. Some observers suspect the increase in executions is a show of defiance to Western critics of Iran’s human rights record.
Mostafaei said he aimed to reduce the rate by having capital punishment abolished for all those convicted as minors and by restricting its application only to aggravated crimes, such as serial murders.
He also called for its abolition in cases where defendants had killed without intent and where mental health issues were involved.
“If we restrict all these cases, I am sure that the number of executions in our country wouldn’t be this high,” Mostafaei said. “If we accept that 500 to 600 executions are carried out a year, my plan, which would observe religious and Koranic principles, would result in the number declining to perhaps 20 per year.”
CLOSELY TRACKED: A US officer said that the warplanes were watched as they flew from Russia by way of Iran and Syria to Libya and were photographed multiple times The US Africa Command flatly rejected Russian claims that Moscow did not deploy fighter jets to Libya, saying on Friday that the 14 aircraft flown in reflect Russia’s long-term goal to establish a foothold in the region that could threaten NATO allies. US Brigadier General Gregory Hadfield, deputy director of intelligence, said that the US tracked the MiG-29s and Su-24 fighter bombers flown in by Russian military, passing through Iran and Syria before landing at Libya’s al-Jufra air base. The base is the main forward airfield for Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army, which has been waging an
‘SACRIFICED’: Hu Weifeng became the sixth doctor to die from COVID-19 at Wuhan Central Hospital, where calls to raise the alarm over the virus were suppressed The death of a Chinese doctor at Wuhan’s “whistle-blower hospital” has prompted a wave of anger at hospital authorities for not protecting front-line health workers in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. Hu Weifeng (胡衛鋒), 42, a urologist at Wuhan Central Hospital where the whistle-blower ophthalmologist Li Wenliang (李文亮) worked, died of the virus on Tuesday after a four-month battle. Hu is the sixth doctor from his hospital killed by the virus. Another doctor who spoke out, Ai Fen (艾芬), said that authorities told hospital staff not to wear protective gear so as not to cause panic and reprimanded her for “harming
Singapore’s otters, long adored by the city-state’s nature lovers, are popping up in unexpected places during the COVID-19 lockdown, but their antics have angered some and even sparked calls for a cull. With the streets empty, the creatures have been spotted hanging out by a shopping center, scampering through the lobby of a hospital and even feasting on pricey fish stolen from a pond. While many think of tiny Singapore as a densely populated concrete jungle, it is also relatively green for a busy Asian city, and has patches of rainforest, fairly clean waterways and abundant wildlife. There are estimated to be about
‘LEAST WE CAN DO’: The gesture was made famous by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was protesting police brutality that targeted minorities They are images that surprised and moved Americans: police officers taking a knee alongside protesters in the most widespread civil unrest to rock the US in decades — and in doing so embracing an anti-racism gesture denounced by US President Donald Trump. As Trump pushes for a crackdown on often-violent protests over the death of George Floyd, police officers from New York to Los Angeles to Houston, Texas, are making gestures of solidarity with demonstrators incensed at the latest case of an unarmed black man dying while in police custody. “I took off the helmet and laid the batons down. Where do