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Wed 6 May 2009 08:43 AM

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Rights group claims Iran to execute two juveniles

Amnesty International says country has 'total disregard' for international law.

Rights group Amnesty International has said Iran planned to execute two juveniles on Wednesday, five days after hanging a woman convicted of a crime she was alleged to have committed while still under 18.

"The scheduling of these executions, just days after the appalling execution of Delara Darabi, show that the Iranian authorities have total disregard for international law which unequivocally bans the execution of those convicted of crimes committed under the age of 18," Amnesty said in a statement on Tuesday.

It said juvenile offenders Amir Khaleqi and Safar Angooti were both due to be executed on Wednesday morning in Tehran's Evin prison. At least 135 other juvenile offenders are known to be on death row in Iran, Amnesty said.

They were convicted of murder aged 16 and 17 respectively, it said.

"The international consensus against executing child offenders reflects the widespread recognition that because of childrens immaturity, impulsiveness, vulnerability and capacity for rehabilitation, their lives should never be written off - however heinous the crimes of which they are convicted," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director of Amnestys Middle East and North Africa Programme.

Amnesty urged the Iranian authorities to adopt new legislation that would ban, once and for all, the execution of juvenile offenders, including those convicted of murder.

Darabi was executed on Friday after being found guilty of murdering a relative during a burglary she carried out along with a friend at the age of 17.

The latest cases come at a time when the judiciary is working on a bill that aims to make it difficult for the courts to sentence minors to death.

The Islamic republic's existing penal code holds a nine-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy to be legally responsible if involved in crime.

Capital offences in Iran include murder, rape, armed robbery, apostasy, blasphemy, serious drug trafficking, repeated sodomy, adultery or prostitution, treason and espionage.

Iran stepped up its use of the death penalty last year in what it says is a bid to improve security in society.