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Saturday, 28 July, 2001, 17:33 GMT 18:33 UK
Iran's spider murderer 'confesses'
Iranian women in Islamic dress
The women were all strangled with their own headscarves
A Iranian man arrested in connection with a string of prostitute killings dubbed the spider murders has reportedly confessed to murdering 16 of the women.

In an interview in a government-run newspaper, Saeed Hanaie said that he had wanted to clean up his district in the city of Mashhad, and that he would have killed as many as 150 women if he had not been caught.


I wouldn't have been bothered even if I had killed 150 women because I wanted to clean the holy city of Mashhad

Saeed Hanaie

Nineteen women, each with convictions for prostitution and drugs use, have been killed in the past year, all strangled with their own headscarves.

Mr Hanaie, who allegedly used to pick up the women on his motorbike and take them home, where he strangled them, was arrested after one woman managed to escape.

Justice officials say Mr Hanaie, a 39-year-old builder and father-of-three, will be put on trial in public in about ten days' time.

Copycat killers

In the interview with Iran newspaper Mr Hanaie confessed to killing 16 of the 19 women. Police have said the other three women were killed by copycat killers.

Iran map

Mr Hanaie said that he "killed the women for the sake of God, and for the protection of my religion because they were prostitutes and were corrupting other people".

"I wouldn't have been bothered even if I had killed 150 women because I wanted to clean the holy city of Mashhad from corrupt women and prostitutes," he said.

"After every single murder, I went back to the scene of the crime and helped the police to remove the body," he added.

Lured home

He admitted that he would approach the prostitutes whilst out on his motorbike and lure them back to his home on the pretext of sex, where he would kill them.

He said he was arrested after one of his victims managed to escape: "She hurt my hands, [and] punched me in the abdomen before fleeing."


He began killing after his wife was propositioned by a driver at a street near their home that was a hangout for prostitutes

Eskandar Momeni
Police Chief

According to Eskandar Momeni, police chief of Khorasan province, Mr Hanaie "began killing after his wife was propositioned by a driver at a street near their home that was a hangout for prostitutes".

The killings were dubbed the "spider murders" by people who thought the killer used headscarves to ensnare the women in the same way that a spider uses a web to trap its victims.

Prior to Mr Hanaie's arrest Iranian police had rounded up around 500 prostitutes in Mashhad to protect them from the murderer.

The killings had sparked outrage throughout Iran, not only because of safety concerns, but also because of the revelations about the extent of prostitution in Iran's holiest city.

See also:

25 Jul 01 | Middle East
Man held over Iran's 'spider murders'
16 Apr 01 | Middle East
Iranian MPs act on prostitute killings
14 Apr 01 | Middle East
Mashhad strangler suspect arrested
17 Oct 00 | Middle East
Rape and murder on rise in Tehran
14 Dec 00 | Middle East
Iran's girl runaways
08 Jan 01 | Middle East
Party-goers arrested in Iran
06 Jul 00 | Middle East
Drugs and prostitution 'soar' in Iran
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