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Thursday, 16 August, 2001, 16:00 GMT 17:00 UK
Three men publicly hanged in Iran
Iranian conservatives
Hardline clerics say such punishments are a deterrent
Three men have been publicly hanged in north-eastern Iran, bringing to 10 the number of people executed in the past two days.

The three men were hanged at dawn in Semnan, about 250 kilometres (155 miles) east of Tehran. They had been convicted of multiple armed robbery.

On Wednesday, police in Tehran used tear gas to break up a protest against another public hanging in the capital.

The trouble erupted at a football stadium in south-eastern Tehran, where more than 2,000 protesters threw sticks and stones in support of relatives trying to stop the execution of a man convicted of murder.

Media reports said plain-clothed security officials seized journalists' cameras, and beat reporters covering the event.

Public outrage

The BBC's Eurasia analyst says it was a rare display of public outrage, at a time when there has been a sharp rise in public executions and floggings.

Iran's President Mohammad Khatami
President Khatami carries the hopes of reformers with him

There is growing public unease in Iran over the way the conservative judiciary is responding to the gradual liberalisation of public life, he says.

Reformists accuse the judiciary of using such punishments to try to discredit the new government of President Mohammad Khatami.

Two public executions took place in the north-eastern city of Mashhad on Wednesday and four others were hanged in Tehran - two of them in public - the semi-official Iran daily reported.


A row has also broken out in Iran over the growing number of public floggings of young people accused of drinking alcohol or making sexual advances.

A leading Iranian conservative, Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi, has said the public floggings should be stopped if they reflect badly on the Islamic state and Islam.

In the latest series of floggings, 13 young men accused of drinking alcohol were lashed with a whip in a square in central Tehran on Tuesday.

The punishment took place during the evening rush hour, bringing traffic to a standstill along Tehran's main north-south thoroughfare.

It was at least the ninth public flogging since President Khatami was re-elected in a landslide victory in June.

See also:

15 Aug 01 | Middle East
Row over public floggings in Iran
23 Jul 01 | Middle East
Iranian minister condemns floggings
16 Jul 01 | Middle East
Iran reformist jailed for six years
12 Jul 01 | Middle East
Iranian adulteress stoned to death
11 Jun 01 | Middle East
Poll boosts Khatami reform bid
11 Mar 01 | Middle East
Khatami: Iran must have democracy
20 Dec 00 | Country profiles
Country profile: Iran
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