Sunday, September 29, 2002

Dateline: Iran

Iran hangs rapists in public

Large crowds have attended public executions in the Iranian capital Tehran - a rare spectacle under reformist President Mohammad Khatami.

Five men, nicknamed the Black Vultures, were hanged from cranes at two sites in the capital, watched by thousands of people.

The five had been convicted of vicious attacks on women across Tehran. The men's crime spree attracted such notoriety that there were no last-minute appeals for clemency or protests by opponents of the death penalty.

At least 139 people were executed in Iran in 2001 - mostly out of public view - according to Amnesty International.

Three of the five - Payam Amini, Amir Karbalai and Majid Qasemi - were hanged in the north-eastern Lavizan district. The other two - Amir Fakhri and Farhad Aqnarian - were executed at a bus station in the west of the city.

Many of the crowd applauded after the execution.

Public hangings are only carried out in Iran if a court decides that the convict's crimes are offensive to public sentiment.