World News

Iran hangs five drug smugglers - media

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran hanged five convicted drug smugglers on Wednesday, Iranian media reported, the latest in a series of executions since authorities launched a crackdown on “immoral behaviour” last year.

Three men were publicly executed in the holy city of Qom, south of the capital Tehran, the official IRNA news agency said.

Two others were hanged in the southeastern city of Zahedan in Sistan-Baluchestan province, notorious for clashes between security forces and smugglers, the state broadcaster reported.

“The death sentence for these (three) people was issued by Qom’s Islamic revolutionary court ... and was carried out this morning,” Qom judiciary official Hoda Tarshizi said.

“These criminals had a background in drug smuggling and had served time in jail but they continued with their criminal activities after they were released,” she said.

Iran lies on a heroin smuggling route from the opium fields of neighbouring Afghanistan, the world’s number one producer of the opium poppy, to the West. Opium poppy provides the key ingredient for heroin.

More than 3,300 Iranian security personnel have died in the region fighting drug traffickers since Iran’s 1979 revolution.

The number of executions in Iran, many in public, has increased since July, when police began a crackdown on “immoral behaviour”. Rights group Amnesty International says Iran has one of the highest rates of executions in the world.

Two drug smugglers were hanged in a Zahedan prison on Monday.

Murder, adultery, rape, armed robbery, apostasy and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Iran’s Sharia law, practised since Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution.