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 Saturday, 11 January, 2003, 14:36 GMT
Iranian teen faces death for drinking
Iranian hardline clerics
Iran's strict Islamic law forbids consumption of alcohol
A 19-year-old Iranian man has been sentenced to death by hanging for repeatedly drinking alcohol, local newspapers have reported.

The man, identified only as Davoud, had already twice been arrested and whipped for committing the offence.

Under the country's strict Islamic laws, drinking is strictly forbidden, and those caught are usually whipped or heavily fined.

However if caught for a third time an offender can be sentenced to death.

Police arrested the man after he visited a police station to enquire about two of his friends who had also recently been detained.

The authorities noticed he had been drinking and immediately charged, the French news agency AFP reported.

Black market

The judge in the court in Shahre Rey, south of the Iranian capital Tehran, has referred the case to the head of Iran's judiciary, a body controlled by conservatives.

He may decide to commute the sentence, after the teenager admitted his errors and promised to give up his drinking habit.

"I had been punished twice for drinking three glasses of alcohol and I knew what I was drinking was forbidden under Islamic law," a local newspaper quoted Davoud as saying.

Despite alcohol being banned under Iran's strict law codes since the 1979 Islamic revolution, it is readily available on the black market, with authorities regularly seizing large quantities of intoxicating drink.

See also:

10 Dec 02 | Middle East
26 Nov 02 | Middle East
08 Oct 02 | Middle East
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15 Aug 01 | Middle East
25 Jun 01 | Middle East
08 Jan 01 | Middle East
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