5 Jul 2009

Iran hangs 20 drug traffickers

7:06 am on 5 July 2009

Iran hanged 20 drug traffickers on Saturday, official media reported, days after putting to death 12 other convicted criminals.

The traffickers were executed in a prison in the city of Karaj west of Tehran after being convicted for buying, selling and possessing drugs including heroin, cocaine and opium, the IRNA nes agency said.

Murder, adultery, rape, armed robbery, apostasy and drug trafficking are all punishable by death in the Islamic Republic.

Human rights group Amnesty International has listed Iran as the world's second most prolific executioner in 2008 after China, and says Iran executed at least 346 people last year.

Iran shares a 900km border with Afghanistan and is used by well-armed gangs to smuggle drugs made from Afghan opium poppies to the West, despite the efforts of Iranian police. Up to two million of Iran's 70 million people are estimated to use narcotics.