Iran hangs six drug smugglers: reports

Iran has hanged six men convicted of drug trafficking, four in the central city of Kerman and two in the northern province of Mazandaran, reports said on Saturday.

All the six executions were carried out this week, reports said.

Iran's Arman newspaper said the four executed in Kerman were identified as Akbar M, Zaher G, Saeed J and Khodabakhsh A, and were convicted of possessing various quantities of heroin, opium and crack cocaine.

The Mazandaran provincial judiciary said on its website that two drug traffickers had been hanged in the city of Sari this week. It gave no further details.

The latest hangings bring to 77 the number of executions reported in Iran so far in 2011, according to an AFP count based on media reports. The authorities say 80 per cent of those executed have been drug traffickers.

State media reported 179 hangings last year. In 2009, Iran executed 388 people, according to international human rights groups, making it second only to China in the number of people it put to death.

Iran says the death penalty is essential to maintain law and order and applied only after exhaustive judicial proceedings.

Possession of more than 30 grams (just over an ounce) of narcotics is punishable by death in Iran, as are murder, rape, armed robbery and adultery.

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