Iran carries out first public execution in two years, NGO says

Norway-based Iran Human Rights says Iman Sabzikar, convicted of murdering police officer, hanged at scene of crime in Shiraz

Illustrative photo of an execution in Iran. (AFP/Arash Khamooshi/ISNA)
Illustrative photo of an execution in Iran. (AFP/Arash Khamooshi/ISNA)

Iran on Saturday carried out its first public execution in over two years, an NGO said, denouncing the practice as “medieval” as concern grows over rising repression in the Islamic republic.

Iman Sabzikar, who had been convicted over the murder of a police officer in February 2022 in the southern city of Shiraz, was hanged in the early morning at the scene of the crime, Norway-based Iran Human Rights said.

It said that Iranian state media had reported on the public execution taking place and that the convict had been identified as Sabzikar, whose sentence of being hanged in public had been confirmed by the supreme court earlier this month.

“The resumption of this brutal punishment in public is intended to scare and intimidate people from protesting,” said IHR’s director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam.

“We can raise the cost of carrying out such medieval practices by people protesting more against the death penalty — particularly public executions — and the international community taking a strong stance,” he added.

Images circulating on social media claiming to be of the execution showed a man dressed in Iran’s standard light blue and black striped prison clothes hanging several meters above the ground on a rope attached to a crane on a truck.

Executions in Iran usually take place within the walls of prison and activists say public executions are used as a deterrent, especially when the crime concerns the killing of a member of the security forces.

IHR said that the last recorded public execution was carried out on June 11, 2020. It added that four other men who were all also sentenced to death for the murder of police officers in separate but similar cases are currently at risk of the same fate.

In recent weeks, activists have expressed concern over a growing crackdown in Iran as the country sees unusual protests in the face of an economic crisis.

Prominent film directors and other intellectuals have been arrested while IHR has said that the number of executions in 2022 doubled in the first half of the year compared with 2021.

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