Two men convicted of murdering a top Iranian judge in 2005 were hanged in public in central Tehran on Thursday, the first such public executions in the Iranian capital in five years.
The men were executed for the murder of Hassan Moghaddas, a hardline deputy prosecutor and head of the ”guidance” court in Tehran, who was shot dead by two men as he getting into his car in August 2005.
Majid Kavousifar and Hossein Kavousifar, from the same family, were standing bareheaded on stools with the nooses around their necks from a crane mounted on the back of a truck.
Executioners in black balaclavas then kicked away the stools and the crane slowly lifted the convicts, to loud cries from the crowd of ”Allahu Akbar”.
Moghaddas was known for his strict handling of a number of sensitive cases involving critics of the Iranian authorities. The execution took place on the second anniversary of his death at the scene of the crime.
It is believed to be the first hanging in Tehran since September 2002 where a gang of five convicted rapists known as the ”Black Vultures” were hanged at two different locations in the city centre.
Thursday’s hangings brought to at least 151 the number of executions carried out in the Islamic republic so far this year, most of them by hanging and often in public.
At least 177 people were executed in 2006, according to Amnesty International, making Iran the most prolific user of the death penalty in the world after China.
Capital offences in Iran include murder, rape, armed robbery, apostasy, blasphemy, serious drug trafficking, pederasty, adultery or prostitution, treason and espionage.
The slain judge sentenced writer Akbar Ganji to six years in prison in 2001 for implicating regime officials in the murders of opposition figures.
The magistrate, who worked with the hardline Tehran chief prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi, also led the trial of intellectuals and reformers who took part in a controversial conference in Berlin in 2000.
Iran has in recent months stepped up executions of criminals in drive aimed at ”elevating security” and giving a clear warning over what happens to those who are deemed a menace to society.
Many convicts recently executed were arrested in a recent sweep on ”arazel va obash,” a Persian phrase that translates loosely as ”thugs” and is used to describe rapists, drug-traffickers and criminals guilty of disturbing public security.
On Wednesday, Iran hanged in public seven people convicted of rape and kidnapping in its holy second city of Mashhad.
A week before, 12 convicts arrested in the same crackdown on thugs were hanged simultaneously in Tehran’s Evin prison. It is highly unusual in Iran for so many people to be hanged at once.
Tehran chief prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi has said he is looking for execution verdicts for 17 other criminals. – AFP