Iran has hanged a 17-year-old boy despite pleas from the international community for Tehran to honour treaties it has signed banning the execution of minors.
Mohammad Hassanzadeh was the second juvenile offender to be hanged in Iran this year.
At least 30 youths who were under 18 when they committed offences have been executed since 1990, seven of them last year alone.
More than 85 child offenders are currently on death row in Iran, the human rights watchdog added.
Hassanzadeh, who was convicted of killing a 10-year-old boy when he was 15, was hanged in a prison in the western city of Sanandaj on Tuesday, Iran’s daily Kargozaran newspaper reported.
Two other juvenile offenders due to be executed for murder on Wednesday were given a one-month reprieve in which to reach “blood money” agreements with the families of their victims.
But on the same day eight men convicted of murder and rape were sent to the gallows in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, bringing to at least 100 the number of executions in Iran this year.
Only China has a higher execution rate.
Hassanzadeh’s execution was “yet another blatant violation by the Iranian authorities of their international obligations”, Amnesty International said.
Iran’s judiciary chief Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi had advised the local court to settle Hassanzadeh’s case “through reconciliation” with his victim’s family but no deal was reached, Kargozaran said.
Under Islamic sharia law, a victim’s family can spare a murderer from execution by accepting “blood money”, or financial compensation. The culprit then serves a prison sentence instead.
Human rights groups said Iran used to circumvent commitments not to execute minors by keeping them on death row until they reached 18.
But Hassandzadeh was 17-and-a-half at the time of his hanging, Kargozaran said.
Human rights campaigners have also tried to raise the legal age of responsibility under Iran’s Islamic legal system.
A boy is held punishable from the age of 15 and a girl from the age of nine.
Iranis party to two international treaties that outlaw the execution of those who were under the age of 18 at the time of their offence.
Capital crimes in the Iran include murder, rape, armed robbery, drug trafficking and adultery.
Earlier this year Ayatollah Shahroudi ordered an end to public executions, unless they had his special approval.
He also banned publishing pictures and broadcasting video footage of executions.
The bans followed a spate of public executions last year which were widely covered by the international media and provoked global condemnation.
One of the two youths given a temporary reprieve on Wednesday said he had agreed to sign a confession without knowledge of its content after he had been tortured.
“I am a 21-year-old, a young man who was only 16 when he entered prison. Like any other teenager [I was] still living my children dreams,” Mohammad Feda’i wrote in a letter obtained by Amnesty International.
“I was beaten and flogged repeatedly… They hanged [suspended] me from the ceiling and left me with no hope of living.”
Feda’i was convicted of a murder committed in a snooker club in 2004. Amnesty says he acted in self-defence and that he was convicted after an unfair trial.
The two treaties are the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
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