AFP: European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton on Wednesday pleaded with Iran to drop death sentences imposed on two people awaiting execution for being ‘enemies of God’.
BRUSSELS (AFP) — European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton on Wednesday pleaded with Iran to drop death sentences imposed on two people awaiting execution for being ‘enemies of God’.
The call came after five militants were hanged for similar offences on Sunday, a decision Ashton said the EU “strongly condemns.”
Ashton urged Tehran to “consider alternative sentences” for a woman and a man each convicted of being ‘moharebs’ or ‘enemies of God’ — a crime punishable by death under Iran’s Sharia-based Islamic law.
Zeynab Jalalian and Hossein Khezri are currently in prison awaiting execution, after Iran on Sunday hanged the five, including a Kurdish woman, convicted of bombing government offices and a gas pipeline to Turkey, state media reported.
“The European Union strongly condemns the executions on 9 May, 2010, in the Evin prison of Iran of Shirin Alamhouli, Farzad Kamangar, Ali Haydarian, Farhad Vakili and Mehdi Eslamian,” Ashton’s statement read.
The EU “is profoundly concerned by the repeated sentencing to death in Iran of people belonging to minorities, as well as of those who were involved in the post-election protests,” she underlined.
Sunday’s hangings brought to at least 61 the number of people executed in Iran so far this year, according to an AFP count based on news reports. Last year, at least 270 people were hanged.
Tehran says the death penalty is essential to maintain public security and is applied only after exhaustive judicial proceedings.
Ashton said the EU, which opposes the death penalty in all circumstances, repeated calls for Iran to show “respect of minimum standards in cases of capital punishment.”