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EU Says Iranian Executions 'Affront To Human Dignity'

Iran usually executes prisoners by hanging
BRUSSELS -- The European Union has denounced Iran's recent execution of 29 convicts as "an affront to human dignity" and said it was deeply concerned about Tehran's increasing use of the death penalty.

Iran's state media said the drug smugglers and other criminals were executed in Tehran's Evin prison at dawn on July 27, following an expanded crackdown on crime.

The French EU presidency said the 27-nation European Union, which opposes the death penalty, condemned the executions in the strongest terms.

"It considers that the Iranian regime's action of staging these executions and making them the focus of media attention is an affront to human dignity," it said in a statement.

It said the EU was deeply concerned by Iran's increasing use of the death penalty in recent months and urged it to end the practice.

Amnesty International has listed Iran as the world's second-most-prolific executioner in 2007. It said Iran executed at least 317 people last year while China executed 470.

Iran is often accused of rights abuses by rights groups and Western governments, although Tehran dismisses the criticism and accuses the West of double standards and hypocrisy.

Murder, adultery, rape, armed robbery, apostasy, and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Iran's Shari'a law, enforced since the country's 1979 Islamic revolution.