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Rights Group Says Secret Executions In Iranian Prison Continue

Iran's chief prosecutor, Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei
Iran's chief prosecutor, Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI) says authorities at a prison in eastern Iran are continuing to carry out secret executions, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

According to the New York-based group, 13 prisoners at Vakilabad prison in the city of Mashhad were secretly hanged on October 5, and 10 more were hanged on October 12. It said the families and lawyers of those executed were not notified beforehand, which constitutes a violation of Iranian law.
ICHRI Executive Director and spokesman Hadi Ghaemi told Radio Farda on November 1 that the executions of 23 prisoners in Vakilabad prison are the most recent he has been informed about by prisoners still able to communicate with the outside world.

He estimated the number of prisoners clandestinely executed in Vakilabad in recent months to be in the hundreds. Ghaemi also said the authorities are trying to hide the ongoing executions by switching the venue and other changes.

"Even the places where executions used to be carried out have been changed; but as the number of executions is high, such cover-ups cannot go on," Ghaemi said.

Ghaemi said he believes the recent executions are being kept secret because the number is so high. He said if the current trend continues, the number of executions in Vakiliabad alone could come close to the annual total for the entire country.

Amnesty International estimates that at least 388 people were put to death in Iran in 2009.

Ghaemi said the identity of those hanged and the crimes they committed are not known with any certainty, but it is believed that most were convicted for drug-related crimes.

Ghaemi cited what he termed a "worrying" statement by Iran's chief prosecutor, Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei, who said most drug traffickers who are arrested are not key figures in the drug trade, but their minions.