Iran hangs 4 for drugs, rape, murder

Tehran - Iran has hanged four people for crimes ranging from drug trafficking, rape and murder, local media said on Sunday, bringing the total number of executions so far this year to 227, according to an AFP tally.

An unnamed drug trafficker convicted of shooting a policeman fighting a convoy of narcotics smugglers in eastern Iran was among those executed, the official IRNA news agency, without specifying the day of the hanging.

Another news agency, ISNA, said two men found guilty of drug trafficking were hanged on Sunday in a prison in the northern city of Sari. The report did not identify them.

The city's prosecutor's office was quoted as saying the two were "chief elements" in the sale and distribution of drugs in Sari.

And state television's website reported that a young man aged 25 was publicly hanged last Wednesday in the town of Marvdasht after being convicted of rape and abduction.

AFP's 2011 execution count is based on media and official reports.

Human Rights Watch counted 388 executions in Iran in 2010, while Amnesty International put the figure at 252, ranking the Islamic republic second only to China in the number of people put to death last year.

Tehran says the death penalty is essential to maintain law and order, and that it is applied only after exhaustive judicial proceedings.

Murder, rape, armed robbery, drug trafficking and adultery are among the crimes punishable by death in Iran.

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