Page last updated at 11:57 GMT, Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Iran hangs convicts recaptured after escape


Two Iranian convicts who escaped execution on Tuesday were hanged hours after being recaptured, Iranian media has reported.

The men and five relatives who aided their escape from the hangman's noose were caught on the way to the coastal town of Bandar Abbas, officials said.

No additional information was given about how they managed to escape.

Iran executes more people than anywhere else in the world except China, human rights groups say.

After the pair were recaptured, the execution was disrupted a second time by a crowd in the town of Sirjan.

The exact details of the incident are still confused, it is not known whether the execution was carried out in public, or the size of the crowd that tried to stop it.

Security forces opened fire on the crowd killing two people, witnesses told the BBC Persian service.

The semi-official news agency Fars reported that a shoot-out broke out between crowd members and security forces, in which 25 people were injured.

The men, named as Esmail Fathipour and Mohammad Esfandiarpour, were executed at the third attempt.

Family punishment

The men were convicted of arms smuggling offences and bank robbery, the Fars news agency reported.

The men's family reportedly led the crowd which overpowered security services as the men were being hung.

The officials have not said what punishment the family members will face.

This year the Iranian government has increased the already high number of executions, possibly as a way of asserting its authority in the wake of the disputed presidential election result, BBC correspondents say.

Human rights groups accuse Iran of making excessive use of the death penalty but Tehran insists it is an effective deterrent that is used only after a lengthy judicial process.

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