PARIS – Iranian authorities Thursday executed a man in public in front of large crowds, a rights group said, denouncing a “medieval” practice as the Islamic Republic presses on with a surge in hangings.
The man, who had been convicted of the capital crime of “corruption on earth,” was executed in the city of Maragheh in the northern province of East Azerbaijan, the Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) said.
“The international community cannot endorse such medieval practices,” said IHR director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, adding the execution shows the “true face of a government that tries to prolong its life with cruelty, humiliation and intimidation of society.”
The images posted on Iranian news websites showed what appeared to be hundreds of people gathered to watch the execution, kept at a distance behind a security tape, as prosecutors addressed reporters.
The man was shown blindfolded next to his two executioners in balaclavas. Another image showed him standing on a chair ahead of the execution with the noose around his neck, and then hanging in the air from a rope attached to a crane once dead. The moment of death itself was not shown.
The convict, who was first arrested some five years ago and not named, had been found guilty of charges related to his relations with women although the specific nature of the alleged crimes was not immediately clear.
Iran executes more people annually than any nation other than China, according to rights groups including Amnesty International, but public executions are relatively rare with almost all hangings carried out inside prisons.
There were no public executions in 2021, according to IHR.
In July 2022, Iran publicly hanged a man convicted of murdering a policeman in the city of Shiraz, and in December, Mohsen Rahnavard, who had taken part in the recent wave of anti-government protests and had been convicted of murdering militia agents, was executed in the city of Mashhad.
But the latest execution is especially unusual in that it took place during the day in front of large crowds with a large media presence. Both the executions in public in 2022 appeared to have taken place before dawn with almost no onlookers.
Iran is currently seeing a surge in executions which rights groups say is aimed at intimidating the public after the wave of protests that erupted in September 2022 after the death in custody of Mahsa Amini following her arrest for allegedly flouting the country’s strict dress rules.
Seven men have been hanged so far in protest-related cases, while Amnesty International warned this week another seven men are at risk of being executed in connection with the protests.
According to IHR, 278 people have been executed this year alone.