Iran sentenced seven people charged with robbery to hand amputation, finger amputation, and flogging in Tehran.
According to the state-run Khorasan daily, the 8th Branch of the Tehran Criminal Court sentenced the head of the “robbery” gang, identified as Ali to hand amputation while his accomplice identified as Shahin was sentenced to the amputation of four of his fingers in his right hand.
The other five convicted men were sentenced to three to five years of prison and 74 lashes each. Ali’s hand amputation sentence and the lashes for the five men have been confirmed by the 39th Branch of the Iran’s Supreme Court.
The state-run daily said that the men were members of a gang that robbed the homes of affluent Iranians in Tehran.
Though Iranian officials are involved in huge known embezzlement and corruption cases, Iran continues to hand down brutal sentences to petty thieves.
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.
According to a human rights group, 23 prisoners convicted of theft are languishing in the Greater Tehran Prison, Fashafoyeh, awaiting hand amputation.
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).
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”.