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Iran Sentences Six Vigilantes to Death

October 18, 2003

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) _ Six Islamic vigilantes were sentenced to death Saturday for killing five people for allegedly having illicit sexual relationships.

Judge Abdolreza Parvizi told The Associated Press he ordered the six men to be hanged in public for the 2002 deaths of three men and two women in the city of Kerman.

Parvizi said the vigilantes stoned one of their victims to death and threw the others into a swimming pool after tying them up.

The vigilantes killed their victims for allegedly promoting moral corruption, the judge said in a telephone interview from Kerman, a city 620 miles southeast of Tehran.

But ``there was no plausible evidence the victims were in any way corrupt,″ Parvizi said.

Nemat Ahmadi, a lawyer for the family of one victim, said the vigilantes told the court they were convinced the victims had illegal sexual relationships and ``therefore deserved death.″

The judge also sentenced the gang’s leader, Mohammad Hamzeh Mostafavi, to 99 lashes for raping a woman in a separate case.

The vigilantes had been sentenced to death May 6 but the Supreme Court revoked the verdict in August. The case was sent to Parvizi’s court for review. The vigilantes have 20 days to appeal.

The murders shocked Kerman residents but the hard-line-controlled state media has not covered the case.

Some family members of the vigilantes denounced the killings.

``I can’t approve (of) what my son did,″ said Qasem Maleki, father of convict Ali Maleki.

``He deserves death (as a) punishment because he killed people whose supposed guilt had never been approved in a court of law.″

In addition to Mostafavi and Maleki, the vigilantes were identified as Soleiman Jahanshahi, Mohammad Ya’abbasi, Mohammad Soltani and Changiz Salari. All are between 18 and 38 years old.

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