Iran holds public hangings
Tehran - Iran has hanged six men convicted of murder, rape, armed robbery and kidnapping, including five who were executed in public on Thursday, the official IRNA news agency reported.
The report said "serial killer" Mehdi Faraji, convicted of murdering five middle-aged women who boarded his minibus, was hanged in public in the city of Qazvin, northwest of the capital Tehran.
IRNA said that two men, Hamid Ranjbar and Hamid Reza Baqeri, were hanged in public after they were convicted of armed robbery and abduction. The two were executed in the southern city of Shiraz.
Two more men, Masoud Dehqan and Mehdi Alipour, were hanged in public in Shiraz after being found guilty of rape, the report added.
Another man, meanwhile, was hanged on Monday for drug smuggling in the city prison of Behbahan in the southwestern province of Khuzestan, the provincial justice department said on its website. It did not provide other details.
The latest hangings bring to 137 the number of executions reported in Iran so far in 2011, according to an AFP count based on media and official reports.
Iranian media reported 179 hangings last year. But international human rights groups say the actual number was much higher, making the Islamic republic second only to China in the number of people it put to death.
Iran says the death penalty is essential to maintain law and order, and that it is applied only after exhaustive judicial proceedings.