Iran hangs three drug smugglers

Iran on Wednesday hanged three convicted drug traffickers in a prison in the southern city of Kerman, the ISNA news agency reported.

The report identified the men sent to the gallows as Ahmad A., Mohammad R., and Karim Sh. They were found guilty of smuggling heroin.

The hangings bring to 218 the number of executions reported in Iran so far this year, according to an AFP tally based on media and official reports.

Human Rights Watch tallied 388 execution cases in Iran in 2010, while Amnesty International put the figure at 252, ranking the Islamic republic second only to China in the number of people put to death last that year.

Tehran says the death penalty is essential to maintain law and order, and that it is applied only after exhaustive judicial proceedings.

Murder, rape, armed robbery, drug trafficking and adultery are among the crimes punishable by death in Iran.

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