Twenty-three prisoners convicted of theft are languishing in the Greater Tehran Prison, Fashafoyeh, awaiting hand amputation. The hand of one of the prisoners is to be amputated in the coming days.
The prisoner has been identified as Alireza Khan Baluchi and reports indicate that his sentence has been sent to the Sentence Implementation Department.
Baluchi was convicted of theft seven years ago. His hand is to be amputated despite the fact that he has paid back the stolen property.
Investigations show that prisoners are sentenced to amputation on charges of petty crimes. Most of them have stolen property which amounts to 5-10 million tomans (Around 300-600 USD).
Iranians are sentenced to amputation for petty thievery while state corruption has been institutionalized in the regime with officials citing numerous cases.
Iran’s Attorney-General recently criticized the “low numbers” of hand amputation punishments in Iran as a result of human rights condemnations and called it “unfortunate”.
In comments carried by the Fars News Agency, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri said that the hands of thieves had to be amputated but that “unfortunately, so as not be condemned on human rights issues in the United Nations, we have abandoned some of the divine laws.”
“One of the mistakes that we make is that we are afraid of human rights (propaganda) and that they say that you treat thieves violently,” he added in a meeting with police commanders on 16 January 2019.
Iran’s Attorney General also said that thieving had increased in Iran compared to last year.
“According to the statistics of the judiciary and the police, unfortunately, robbery is second in terms of crimes in the society,” Montazeri said adding that theft accounted for up to 28 percent of all crimes in Iran.
The senior judicial official criticized the lower rates of amputation even while acknowledging that the reason behind the rise in the robbery was Iran’s dire economic conditions.
He said that “unemployment” and the “closure of factories” were all effective in the higher numbers.
The last reported hand amputation in Iran was carried out on January 18, 2018. The victim was a 34-year-old man identified by his first name as Ali.
The hand amputation was carried out with a guillotine as is customary in Iran.
The man was sentenced to amputation for stealing livestock and other valuables from several villages in the northeastern province of Khorasan Razavi.
Amnesty International called the hand amputation a “shocking act of cruelty” in a statement.
“Meting out such unspeakably cruel punishments is not justice and serves to highlight the Iranian authorities’ complete disregard for human dignity. There is no place for such brutality in a robust criminal justice system,” Magdalena Mughrabi, the Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International said at the time.
In response to the widespread protests in reaction to the amputation, the head of Khorasan Razavi’s Judiciary said that “the hand amputation of the sheep thief was a divine punishment.”
The Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation has reported that between 2007 and 2017, the Iranian authorities issued at least 215 amputation sentences and carried out 125 amputations, including at least six amputations in public.
According to Amnesty International, the Iranian authorities have consistently defended amputation as the best way to deter theft, expressing regret that it cannot be practiced in public and on a widespread basis without international condemnation.
In a shocking statement before the UN Human Rights Council in October 2010, Mohammad Javad Larijani, the head of Iran’s Human Rights Council, denied that such punishments amount to torture, claiming they are “culturally and religiously justified”.