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Despite Judge's
Order, Iran Hangs 21-Year-Old Convicted of Rape Committed
as a Minor

Despite Judge's
Order, Iran Hangs 21-Year-Old Convicted of Rape Committed
as a Minor

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A 21-year-old man convicted of raping three boys when he was a teenager and sentenced to death has been hanged despite a chief justice's order that the case be reviewed, the man's lawyer and a New-York based rights group said Thursday. Makwan Moloudzadeh was executed late Tuesday and his family told to come pick up his body for burial Wednesday, Human Rights Watch officials said. ''We were expecting an order for retrial by the Supreme Court,'' Saeed Eqbali, the lawyer for the sentenced man, told the Associated Press. ''There would have been no harm in a retrial and it could have saved a life.''

A 21-year-old man convicted of raping three boys when he was a teenager and sentenced to death has been hanged despite a chief justice's order that the case be reviewed, the man's lawyer and a New-York based rights group said Thursday.

Makwan Moloudzadeh was executed late Tuesday and his family told to come pick up his body for burial Wednesday, Human Rights Watch officials said.

''We were expecting an order for retrial by the Supreme Court,'' Saeed Eqbali, the lawyer for the sentenced man, told the Associated Press. ''There would have been no harm in a retrial and it could have saved a life.''

Authorities detained Makwan in 2006 on charges he had had sexual intercourse with three teenagers, all under the legal age of 18, in the Iranian Kurdish town of Paveh, 440 miles west of Tehran.

The charges stemmed from complaints raised by the teenagers' families claiming Makwan had committed the rape eight years ago, when he was 13 years old.

During the trial in a court in the nearby city of Kermanshah, Makwan tried unsuccessfully to revoke his earlier confession to the crime, which he said was extracted under coercion. His lawyer said that after the verdict, the plaintiffs dropped their accusations.

''But the judges issued verdict only based on their own understanding,'' Eqbali said. ''Under the law, even if Makwan had confessed four times, it should not have mattered because he was not of [legal] age at the time of the crime.''

In November the head of Iran's judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Shahroudi ordered Makwan's death sentence be halted, said the initial verdict was against the law, and ordered a retrial, Eqbali said.

But the case, which was supposed to be reviewed in Tehran, was sent back to Kermanshah, where local judicial authorities speedily approved the execution, and it was ''carried out quickly,'' the lawyer said.

''Makwan was hanged on Wednesday, and his body was given to his family for funeral ceremony in Paveh,'' the lawyer added.

Eqbali said the case was full of ambiguities, including a lack of investigation and evidence, and said he would sue the judges on behalf of Makwan's parents if they decide so.

Only this year, Iran has hanged dozens convicted on charges of rape, robbery, and kidnapping, which along with sodomy and male homosexuality, are all capital offenses in the Persian nation.

The London-based Amnesty International says Iran has executed five persons under the age of 18 in 2007, and 27 since 1990.

In Cairo, Clarissa Bencomo of the Human Rights Watch, said the group can confirm Makwan's sentence was carried out. ''We have spoken to individuals who have seen the body and the burial,'' she said, adding that Makwan's family was ''very distraught.''

There was no formal notice, as is required under law, 24 hours before a sentence is carried out, to a convict's family and lawyer, she said.

''The local judicial authorities ordered the execution contravening the chief justice's order,'' Bencomo said, adding the case was fraught, with no ''forensic evidence'' of the crime, only the accusations by the plaintiffs, and scores of other irregularities.

''We are calling for a formal investigation both into the contravention of the judicial order and on authorities to bring to justice those who carried out the execution,'' Bencomo said. ''There were clearly violations of Iranian law here.''

According to HRW, Iran is the world's leading executor of children, and the country has executed people under the age of 18 and adults who committed a crime when they were under the legal age -- both of which is prohibited under the U.N. rights of the child convention, to which Iran is a signatory. (Nasser Karimi, AP)

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