Iran urged not to repeat execution of man who survived hanging

Drug smuggler found alive in morgue is being nursed to recovery in preparation for second execution


Amnesty International has urged Iran not to repeat an attempt to execute a drug smuggler who was found alive in a morgue after being hanged at a jail in the northeastern city of Bojnord last week.

Named as Alireza M (37), he is now being nursed to recovery in preparation for his repeat hanging. To the dismay of his family, Iranian judicial authorities are waiting for him to make a full recovery before they hang him again, according to the state-run Jam-e-Jam newspaper.

Iran’s judiciary has argued that he was sentenced to death, rather than to hanging, and another attempt should be made to execute him. However human rights activists, already concerned about Iran’s high rate of executions, say he should be spared.

A nurse told Jam-e-Jam that Alireza’s general health was satisfactory and he was making progress. “We couldn’t believe he was still alive when we went to collect his body,” a relative told the Iranian newspaper. “More than anyone, his two daughters are very happy.”

Mohammad Erfan, a judge with Iran’s administrative justice court, told Jam-e-Jam: “The sentence issued by the revolutionary court is the death penalty – in such circumstances it should be repeated once again.”

Alireza was arrested three years ago for carrying and possessing shisheh, an Iranian nickname for methamphetamine in the form of crystal, which is relatively cheap to buy in the Islamic republic.

A revolutionary court found him guilty and sentenced him to death.

Under Iranian law, convicts should be conscious and relatively healthy before execution – hanging is delayed for people who are pregnant or in a coma.

As a neighbour of Afghanistan, a leading producer and supplier of the world’s drugs, Iran has high rates of drug use, especially among its huge number of young people.

To tackle this, Iranian authorities have launched a campaign, with financial aid from Europe, to crack down on drug smuggling, which has led to an alarming rate of executions.

In recent years it has been among the five countries with the highest rates of executions. China tops the list.

In 2012, Iran is known to have executed at least 314 people, according to figures released by Amnesty, but this number could be far below the true number.

Iran says most of the executions are related to drug offences. Since Hassan Rouhani took office in early August as the new president of Iran, at least 125 people have been executed.

Abolition of death penalty
Amnesty, which has long campaigned for the abolition of the death penalty globally, said the plan to send Alireza to the gallows again was wrong.

“I am appalled by the ghastly plan to ‘re-execute’ a man who had been hanged, certified as dead and whose body had been turned over to his family before he revived,” Amnesty’s Drewery Dyke said.

“Drug trafficking is a serious criminal offence and while the authorities need to do their utmost to combat the scourge of drug use in Iran, use of the death penalty is wrong and out of step with international standards. Carrying it out twice on man who somehow managed to survive 12 minutes of hanging, who was certified as dead and whose body was turned over to his family, is simply ghastly.” – (Guardian service)