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Iranian ‘Hanging Judge’ Dies at 77

November 27, 2003

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) _ Ayatollah Sadeq Khalkhali, a judge known for sentencing hundreds of people to death following Iran’s revolution, has died. He was 77.

Khalkhali died after an operation in a Tehran hospital on Wednesday night, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported Thursday.

Khalkhali was known for ordering the execution of opponents of Iran’s revolutionary leadership, including former Prime Minister Abbas Hoveida.

His son, Mohammad Givi-Khalkhali, attributed the retired judge’s death to old age and illnesses of the heart and brain.

Khalkhali was known as the ``Hanging Judge″ for the ease with which he condemned defendants to death after summary trials.

He was appointed president of the Islamic Revolution Court in February 1979, shortly after the revolution deposed the U.S.-backed Shah Reza Pahlavi.

In his autobiography he wrote that he sentenced to death 85 members of the Shah’s government and security forces, but others held him responsible for the executions of many more without trials.

Some of his trials lasted only minutes. It was widely reported in Iran that when Nematollah Nasiri, a top military official under the shah, came before him, Khalkhali picked up a pistol and shot him dead on the spot.

In retirement, Khalkhali was unrepentant. He defended his actions saying that the founding father of the revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, had given him wide powers and, at that time, it was necessary for him to use them.

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