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No second execution for hanging survivor, Iran says

Media reports from Iran say authorities have decided not to re-execute a convicted drug trafficker who survived a first hanging. International rights groups had appealed for his life to be spared.

The official Iranian news agency IRNA quoted Justice Minister Mostafa pour-Mohammadi as saying that "the convict who survived will not be executed again."

"If he survives, it is not expedient to hang him again," pour-Mohammadi added.

In other comments reported by the agency, judiciary chief Sadeq Larijani also seemed to confirm that the man's life would be spared, saying that he was "for the proposal of pardoning the individual from the execution sentence to one degree lower." This suggests that the convict, identified only as Alireza M., may be sentenced to life in prison instead.

Alireza M., 37, was arrested three years ago for carrying one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of methamphetamine. He was given the death penalty, and was hanged earlier this month.

However, although he was officially pronounced dead after 12 minutes hanging from a noose, staff at a mortuary found he was still breathing a day later. He later reportedly fell into a coma.

A local newspaper reported on Wednesday that he had regained consciousness.

Amnesty International is among the groups that have called for an immediate stay of execution for Alireza M.

Iran has one of the world's highest execution rates. Human rights groups say more than 500 were put to death last year and almost the same number so far this year.

According to the Iranian interpretation of Islamic sharia law, murder, rape, armed robbery, drug trafficking and adultery are all crimes carrying a possible death penalty.

tj/av (AFP, dpa)