The Times: Iran has publicly hanged two male teenagers convicted of raping a 13-year-old boy at knifepoint. After the Supreme Court upheld the verdict of child rape, they were executed on Tuesday in Edalat (Justice) Square in the city of Mashhad. The British gay rights group Outrage! has accused Iran of torturing the two into confessing that they had homosexual sex. It believes that the assault charges were a smokescreen to justify killing homosexuals. The Times
By Our Foreign Staff
IRAN has publicly hanged two male teenagers convicted of raping a 13-year-old boy at knifepoint. After the Supreme Court upheld the verdict of child rape, they were executed on Tuesday in Edalat (Justice) Square in the city of Mashhad.
The British gay rights group Outrage! has accused Iran of torturing the two into confessing that they had homosexual sex. It believes that the assault charges were a smokescreen to justify killing homosexuals.
Pictures of the hangings, on the ISNA student news agency website, showed the terrified young men crying as they were interviewed by state media in a lorry on the way to the gallows. Another picture showed hangmen in balaclavas tightening the nooses around their necks.
Irans religiously conservative judiciary decided that the pair had raped the 13-year-old at knifepoint while he was out cycling in the northeast province of Khorassan. The young mens ages were not released but Ruhollah Rezazadeh, the lawyer for one of them, told ISNA that he was under 18, yet the judiciary had refused to spare him for being too young. The other accused was said to be 18 years old.
Iranian newspapers reported that the two were also given more than 200 lashes for theft and drinking alcohol. The press carried conflicting reports about the fate of three other men accused of involvement in the sexual assault. Qods newspaper said that they were still on the run, although the Mardomsalari daily reported that they had been jailed.
Mr Rezazadeh defended the two, saying they had not understood that gay relations and drinking were forbidden. Homosexuality is a crime in Iran, but the death penalty is normally reserved for murder, rape, armed robbery, adultery, drug trafficking and apostasy.
Many newspapers said that the pair were originally from the restive southwest province of Khuzestan, home to Irans Arab minority and the lions share of the Islamic republics oil wealth.
Peter Tatchell, an Outrage! spokesman, said that Britain should reconsider its relations with Iran because of its victimisation of homosexuals. We urge the international community to treat Iran as a pariah state, break off diplomatic relations and impose trade sanctions, he said.
Britain follows a policy of constructive engagement with Iran, alongside France and Germany, mainly directed at resolving an international dispute over whether Tehran is seeking nuclear arms.
The European Union has been pursuing a human rights dialogue with Iran, but last year the American pressure group Human Rights Watch said that abuses had risen since 2000.
Amnesty International said that Iran executed 159 people last year, a figure exceeded only by China. Under Irans religious law, the age of criminal culpability is defined as puberty, which most judges put at 15 for boys and nine for girls.
Iran has already drawn fire from international rights groups for executing minors. Last summer a 16-year-old girl, Atefeh Rajabi, was hanged in the Caspian port of Neka for sex before marriage. Medical reports, not allowed in court, had suggested that she was mentally ill.
The clerical judiciary has repeatedly said that it is preparing to overhaul its approach to juvenile crime and would institute a minimum age of 18 for long prison or death sentences. But human rights lawyers are not convinced that the reforms will be implemented soon.
Since 1990 11 child offenders reported executed
Jan 2004 Mohammad Mohammadzadeh, 21, executed for an alleged murder
June 2004 Ali, 16, sentenced to die for killing fellow high school student
Aug 2004 Atefeh Rajabi, 16, hanged for sex before marriage
Nov 2004 Vahid, 16, sentenced to death for murder of a friend said to have tried to abuse him
Jan 2005 30 under 18 detained and thought to be facing death sentence
Source: Amnesty International