Iran hangs man convicted of apostasy

TEHRAN Mon Jan 31, 2011 2:31pm GMT

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TEHRAN (Reuters) - An Iranian man who attracted several disciples after claiming to be God was hanged for apostasy in the southwest of the country, the semi-official Fars news agency reported Monday.

Apostasy, murder, adultery, rape, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Iran's sharia law, in practice since the country's 1979 Islamic revolution.

Fars said Abdolreza Gharabat, who was hanged last Wednesday, had deceived some people into worshipping him. The report said his followers were mostly "young people" in Khuzestan province.

The western-based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran published a report earlier this month which calculated that Iran had executed an average of one person every eight hours since the start of the year.

Rights groups say Iran is second only to China in the number of executions it carries out, and puts more people to death than any other country per head of population. Iran routinely dismisses Western criticism of its justice system, saying it is implementing Islamic law.

(Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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