Iran hangs Iranian-Dutch woman for drug smuggling

TEHRAN Sat Jan 29, 2011 3:15am EST

TEHRAN (Reuters) - An Iranian-Dutch woman, arrested after taking part in anti-government protests in Iran in 2009, has been hanged for drug smuggling, the semi-official Mehr news agency said on Saturday.

"A woman smuggler named Zahra Bahrami, daughter of Ali, has been hanged today for the possession and selling of narcotics," Mehr reported, quoting the court.

The 45-year-old woman's daughter was quoted by the New York-based rights group International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran as saying the drug charges were fabricated.

Mehr reported that she had been found guilty of smuggling cocaine into Iran from the Netherlands and was found with 450 grams of the drug in her possession. Iran does not recognise dual citizenship.

Bahrami, who according to the International Campaign for Human Rights, lived in London but visited her family in Iran, took part in opposition demonstrations marking the Shi'ite Muslim festival of Ashura in December 2009.

That was six months after the disputed re-election of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad which was followed by the biggest street protests since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The government stamped out the protests which it says were the work of foreign-backed seditionists. Thousands of people were detained after the election. Most of them have since been freed, but more than 80 people have been jailed for up to 15 years and at least five have been sentenced to death.

As in the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, an Iranian woman whose sentence to death by stoning was suspended after an international outcry, Iranian authorities accused foreign governments of trying to interfere in judicial proceedings.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said last week: "It is expected from the Western countries to appreciate Iran's efforts to combat drug trafficking and even cooperate accordingly. Unfortunately, however, we are witnessing their support for Zahra Bahrami and they have even called for her release."

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