TEHRAN — An Iranian man was hanged on Sunday reportedly by the parents of his victim whom he murdered in a brawl as a teenager, despite international calls urging the Islamic republic to stop such executions.
Behnoud Shojaie had been convicted of stabbing to death 17-year-old Ehsan Nasrollahi during a fight in August 2005 when he himself was aged 17, Iranian news agencies reported.
"The mother and father of Ehsan Nasrollahi themselves carried out the punishment in the Evin prison," the agency ISNA said in reference the notorious detention facility in Tehran.
Former Iran judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi had agreed in June last year to suspend Shojaie's death sentence to give the victim's family a chance to pardon him under Islamic sharia law.
And a judiciary bill is now awaiting parliament's approval that aims to ease punishments for offences committed by youths and make it harder for courts to sentence minors to death for murder.
But Nasrollahi's family refused to pardon him.
"We didn't stop our efforts until the last moment to gain their clemency but unfortunately it was fruitless and the execution was carried out," judiciary official Fakhredin Jafarzadeh was quoted as saying by ISNA.
Under sharia law, the family can spare a murderer from execution by accepting blood money for the victim's life and leaving the convict to serve only a prison sentence.
Shojaie's case drew international attention and several domestic human rights groups also strongly called for halting the execution.
In June 2008, the United Nations human rights arm asked Iran not to execute four offenders sentenced to death over crimes committed when they were minors, including Shojaie.
Seventeen people have been executed in the past two years for crimes committed when under the age of 18, according to rights groups in February.
Iran is a signatory to a UN convention on children's rights which stipulates that members cannot execute convicts found guilty of committing crimes as minors.
At least 135 other juvenile offenders were known in May to be facing death sentences in Iran, according to a report issued by London-based rights group Amnesty International.
Shojaie's hanging brings to at least 231 the number of people executed in the Islamic republic so far this year, according to an AFP count based on news reports.
In 2008, Iran executed 246 people, second only to China.
Tehran says the death penalty is a necessary tool for maintaining public security and is applied only after exhaustive judicial proceedings.
Murder, rape, armed robbery, drug trafficking and adultery are all punishable by death in Iran.
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