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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 October, 2004, 09:36 GMT 10:36 UK
Iran child killer to be executed
By Frances Harrison
BBC correspondent in Tehran

iran map
A man in Iran has been sentenced to death for his role in the serial killings of 17 children and three adults, state-run television reports.

The trial was held behind closed doors and only lasted two days.

It drew broad attention in Iran because of the gruesome nature of the crimes, which went on for more than a year in the deserts on the outskirts of Tehran.

The press said some corpses were left in shallow graves with dead cats or dogs left on top to disguise the smell.

Iranian television reported the verdict, saying the main defendant was awarded the death sentence for two cases of rape.

He also received 15 years' prison sentence for kidnapping, another three years in jail for seven cases of premeditated murder, as well as 100 lashes for what were described as crimes against the dead.

The court also ordered the guilty man to pay what is known as blood money - a form of financial compensation to the victim's family, sanctioned by Islamic law in place of execution.

Organ trade

A second defendant was acquitted of murder but sentenced to jail for kidnapping, and given 100 lashes.

Court officials said the accused used cyanide to poison some of the children, but strangled and beat others to death after sexually abusing them.

One father said he thought the killers had removed human organs from the children in order to sell them.

Officials have said they plan to prosecute members of the police and judiciary for not acting sooner to stop the killings.

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