Local sources in Mashad told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that 26 more inmates were hanged at Vakilabad Prison on 15 June 2011. At the same time, the Prosecutor of Mashad Mahmoud Zoghi admitted to secret group executions and without mentioning the number of executions over the past two and half years, referred to “the high number of executions.”
Zoghi acknowledged group executions while reporting the large number of drug trafficking cases in Vakilabad prison.
“With such a high volume of drug trafficking cases, the execution statistics are proportionate and foreign media unjustifiably exaggerate in this subject,” Zoghisaid.
The secret group executions were carried out against Iran’s laws, without the knowledge or presence of lawyers and family members of the prisoners. Neither the prisoners or their lawyers were served requisite papers from the Supreme Court upholding their death sentences. The prisoners were not informed in advance about the final confirmation or date of their executions and were only informed hours before they were executed.
According to information obtained by the Campaign, in these cases, the “execution sentence confirmation notices” from the Supreme Court, and the “sentence implementation orders” from the Prosecutor General’s Office, are only served to the Prosecutor of Mashad. Mohseni Ejehi, Iran’s Prosecutor General has repeatedly given orders to prosecutors nationwide to implement the execution sentences of drug traffickers in a swift manner.
Zoghi characterized execution statistics in Khorasan as “natural.” “According to anti-drugs laws, transportation, possession, and trade of more than 30 grams of heroin carries the death penalty. As the narcotics enter the Khorasan Razavi Province in high volume, naturally the rate of executions will be high, too,” he said.
Vakilabad Prison in Mashhad
Refraining from mentioning the exact number of executions carried out at Vakilabad in 2009 and 2010, Zoghi only addressed executions carried out since the beginning of the Persian new year, between 21 March and 21 June 2011 in general terms. “During the current [Iranian] year, we carried out execution sentences in five phases,” he said. (Link to Mashad Prosecutor interview with ISNA). Recently, the Campaign reported of five days where group executions were carried out between 21 March and 21 June 2011: 10 executions on 6 April; 12 executions on 13 April; 10 executions on 16 May; and 16 executions total on 23 and 24 May.
In numerous reports last year, the Campaign reported of the secret executions of hundreds of prisoners at Vakilabad Prison in 2009 and 2010. The Campaign has also been informed of secret executions at Birjand, Taibad, Ghezel Hessar (Karaj), Karoon (Ahvaz), and Orumiyeh Prisons. In many cases, local and judicial authorities have only implicitly admitted the existence of these executions. The Campaign has gathered information that indicates most of the unannounced secret group executions have been carried out inside Vakilabad Prison and Ghezel Hessar Prison. In the past two years, hundreds of prisoners have been hanged inside these two prisons. According to information received from local sources, several thousand prisoners are currently on death row on drug trafficking charges in Vakilabad and Ghezel Hessar Prisons.
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran regards the recent remarks by the Prosecutor of Tehran as more evidence of widespread and secret group executions at Vakilabad Prison, and urges Iranian judicial authorities to end the horrific trend of secret executions in Iranian prisons. Iranian judicial authorities use violent and lethal policies in confronting drugs. In recent years, such policies have show no indication of being effective in managing Iran’s drug problems. Additionally, the Campaign joins many other human rights organizations to ask the Iranian Judiciary to abolish the death penalty, due to its cruel, inhumane, and irreversible nature.
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