World News

Iran hangs 20 drug traffickers in one day - IRNA

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran hanged 20 drug traffickers on Saturday, official media reported, days after putting to death 12 other convicted criminals.

The traffickers were executed in a prison in the city of Karaj west of Tehran after being convicted for buying, selling and possessing various drugs, IRNA news agency said.

A total of 700 kg of heroin, cocaine and opium had been seized from the convicted traffickers, who were between 35 and 48 years old, IRNA said.

Murder, adultery, rape, armed robbery, apostasy and drug trafficking are all punishable by death in the Islamic Republic.

The human rights group Amnesty International has listed Iran as the world’s second most prolific executioner in 2008 after China, and says Iran executed at least 346 people last year.

Iranian media reported earlier this week that six drug traffickers were executed in a prison in Qom on Wednesday and six people were hanged for murder in Tehran’s Evin prison on Tuesday.

European governments and Western rights groups have criticised Iran for an increase in the number of executions since authorities began a campaign against “immoral behaviour” in 2007.

Iran says it is implementing Islamic law and rejects accusations it is violating human rights, accusing the West of double standards and hypocrisy.

Iran shares a 900 km border with Afghanistan and is used by well-armed gangs to smuggle drugs made from Afghan opium poppies to the West, despite the efforts of Iranian police. Up to 2 million of Iran’s 70 million people are estimated to use narcotics.