Forty people imprisoned on drug charges have been sentenced to death, says the head of the Justice Department in the northwestern province of Ardebil.
Mehr News Agency reports that all 40 of the condemned prisoners were accused of smuggling and dealing drugs, adding: “At present, a number of the sentences have been processed and will soon be put to execution.”
Ever since Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani took over as the of head of the judiciary, about two years ago, the number of executions in the Islamic Republic has surged. In the past year, Ayatollah Larijani has often warned that the judiciary will show no mercy to “hoodlums, armed robbers and drug dealers.”
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran recently reported that 26 people were hanged en masse at Vakilabad Prison in Mashhad on June 16. The prisoners had been convicted on drug charges.
The campaign added that hundreds of other prisoners have been executed at Vakilabad over the past two years.
Last week, the Mashhad prosecutor announced that reports have exaggerated the number of executions carried out at Vakilabad Prison. He added that drug arrests are common in Mashhad because of its proximity to the Afghanistan border, a major portal for the flow of drugs into Iran.
In recent months, international human rights organizations have expressed grave concern over the escalating number of executions in Iran.