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EU rebukes Iran for mass executions

DPA news agency (sms)July 29, 2008

The European Union said that the execution of 29 convicted criminals in Iran was an "affront to human dignity." The bloc called on Tehran to put an end to capital punishment.

Evin prision wall
The executions took place behind the walls of the Evin prisonImage: Picture-Alliance /dpa

The 27-member bloc "condemns in the strongest terms the 29 simultaneous executions which took place in Evin prison, Iran, on Sunday," said a statement released by the French government, which currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, and approved by all EU member states, on Tuesday, July 29.

The EU "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," said the statement.

The EU is a firm opponent of the death penalty and has long lobbied internationally for an end to the practice.

Not basis for fair judiciary

"Capital punishment cannot form the basis of a fair and effective prosecution policy: the dissuasive effect of this penalty has never been proved and any judicial error is irreversible," the statement said.

On Sunday Iranian state broadcaster IRIB showed interviews with 10 of the condemned men in which they said that they deserved their sentence, due to the "wrong path" they had chosen.

The 10 had all been convicted of repeat capital crimes such as murder, rape and drug trafficking, Tehran prosecutor Said Mortazavi told the IRIB Web site.

IRIB also broadcast street interviews with people who unanimously approved the executions as a "correct policy of deterrence."

More than 290 convicts were reportedly executed in Iran last year, many in public. However, Sunday's hanging was the first mass execution to be carried out in the last 28 years.

The EU is "deeply concerned by the increasing recourse to the death penalty in Iran in recent months," the statement said. "It urges the Iranian authorities to put an end to death sentences and executions."