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What is behind Iran’s execution spree as Tehran hangs 10 prisoners this week?

The United Nations estimated that more than 200 people have been executed this year so far, as authorities battle internal protests.
 People protest against executions and detentions in Iran, in front of the Iranian Permanent Mission to the UN in New York City on December 17, 2022. (Photo by Kena Betancur / AFP) (Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

Iran executed on Wednesday seven people on rape and drug-related charges, bringing the total to at least 10 confirmed cases of prisoners hanged this week, as rights groups sound the alarm over the “chilling” execution spree in the Islamic Republic.

Iran Human Rights (IHR) said in a report that four people convicted of rape were hanged at the Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj, 36 kilometers (22 miles) west of Tehran. The Oslo-based group could not identify the identity of the men. It said that in most rape cases, confessions are obtained under torture and defendants do not have access to a lawyer.

Iranian authorities did not confirm the rape-related executions.

In a separate case, three other men were hanged at the Ghezal Hesar prison, also in Karaj, on drug charges. The Mizan Online website, affiliated with the Iranian judiciary, confirmed the executions, saying the convicts were members of Panjak, a large cocaine distribution cartel. Mizan identified one of the convicts as Hossein Panjak, known as the “sultan of cocaine.”

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