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Iran Executes Six People In Public, State Radio Reports

TEHRAN -- Iran has executed six people in public in the northeastern city of Sabzevar, state radio has reported, the second report of a public execution in the country in less than a week.

Judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi-Shahrudi in January ordered a halt to public executions in Iran unless they had his approval, "based on social necessities."

The radio described the convicts as "wicked" people but did not say what crimes they had been convicted of nor when they were put to death. Iran usually carries out executions in prisons by hanging.

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

On July 12, an Iranian newspaper said four convicted murderers were hanged in public in the southern province of Bushehr.

The same day, police in the capital, Tehran, launched a renewed drive to crack down on drug dealers and other "troublemakers," building on an operation implemented last year, official media said.

People "arrested in this operation will be kept in special camps under special conditions.... These individuals are liable to receive the death sentence for their crimes," Tehran prosecutor Said Mortazavi was quoted as saying.

Amnesty International in April listed Iran as the world's second-most-prolific executioner last year, with at least 317 people put to death, trailing only China which carried out 470 death sentences.

Iran rejects accusations it is violating human rights and accuses the West of double standards and hypocrisy.