August 2, 2007 / 10:03 AM / in 11 years

Iran hangs judge's killers in public

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran hanged the killers of a judge, who had jailed several reformist dissidents, before a crowd of hundreds of people on Thursday.

Iranian police officers escort Majid Kavoosifar (2nd L) to his execution by hanging in Tehran August 2, 2007. Iran hanged Majid and Hossein Kavoosifar, the killers of a judge who had jailed several reformist dissidents, before a crowd of hundreds of people on Thursday. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi

Majid Kavousifar and Hossein Kavousifar, his nephew, were hanged in front of Tehran’s Ershad judiciary complex, where they shot dead judge Hassan Moghaddas in his car in 2005.

The two were not political activists, but Tehran’s public prosecutor said Majid had believed the judge was corrupt. The prosecutor said the killers were also convicted of armed robbery and other murders.

A girl attends the hanging of Majid Kavousifar and Hossein Kavousifar in Tehran August 2, 2007. Iran hanged Majid and Hossein, the killers of a judge who had jailed several reformist dissidents, before a crowd of hundreds of people on Thursday. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi

Judge Moghaddas had presided over the jailing of seven dissidents in 2000 after they attended a conference in Berlin on Iranian reform.

Iran has one of the highest rates of execution in the world, but public executions are relatively rare.

Hoods over the heads of the judge’s killers were removed before the hangings, which took place from the back of tow trucks in front of a giant portrait of Moghaddas. Hossein looked pale and cried. His uncle smiled and waved goodbye to friends.

Onlookers in the street and on the roofs of houses chanted “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest) and took pictures with mobile phones. Some laughed.

A member of Iran's special police forces checks the cable for hanging Majid Kavousifar and Hossein Kavousifar in Tehran August 2, 2007. Iran hanged Majid and Hossein, the killers of a judge who had jailed several reformist dissidents, before a crowd of hundreds of people on Thursday. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl

“God, please give me back my son,” shouted Hossein’s tearful mother as she tried to reach his body. He was in his early twenties.

Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi said: “the two were terrorists.”

Dozens of people have been executed for rape, smuggling and other offences in Iran in recent weeks. Most were arrested in a crackdown on “immoral behaviour”, which began in April.

Iran hanged nine men on Wednesday for rape, armed robbery and other offences. Some 16 people were hanged in July.

Murder, rape, adultery, armed robbery, apostasy and drug smuggling are all punishable by death under Iran’s Islamic Sharia law, imposed since the 1979 revolution.

The number of executions doubled to at least 177 last year, according to Amnesty International. Since the beginning of 2007, at least 124 people have been put to death. Western rights groups have called on Iran to abolish the death penalty.

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