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Iran's Prosecutor Says Amputations Reduced To Avoid International Condemnation

A burglar's fingers are cut off as punishment following a court order in Tehran, Iran, 2017. File photo

The Islamic Republic's Prosecutor-General has expressed regret that a number of "divine punishments" are set aside to save Iran from being condemned by international bodies.

Divine punishments in Islam, Hudud, refers to punishments that under Islamic law are mandated and fixed by God, including Qisas, meaning "retaliation in kind", "eye for an eye", "nemesis" or retributive justice, cutting the hand of a thief, and flogging.

The mid-ranking cleric, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri's comments are published at a time that the Islamic Republic has been repeatedly criticized for implementing "hudud".

Regardless of international criticism, the Islamic Republic has never been shy to implement hudud in public. Meanwhile, it was reported that a new device has been exclusively designed for cutting the fingers of suspects convicted of theft and robbery.

Attorney General, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri speaking in a meeting, undated.
Attorney General, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri speaking in a meeting, undated.

Five years ago, several photographs were published by local news outlets, showing a blindfolded man having his fingers severed by the mechanical amputation device.

The state-run Iran Students News Agency (ISNA) reported on January 16, 2013, "The prisoner had been convicted of theft and adultery by a court in Shiraz.

A series of pictures show three masked officials, clad entirely in black, holding the man's right hand in a device while one turns a wheel operating the guillotine in the manner of a rotary saw.

However, the number of such punishments, including stoning to death, has significantly dropped in recent years in Iran.

Nevertheless, the Islamic Republic's authorities have repeatedly insisted that they would carry on the hudud and "never surrender" to the "westernized human rights".

In the meantime, the prosecutor general's latest remarks show that international protests against the so-called Divine Punishments have had its impact on reducing the implementation of hudud.

Nonetheless, Montazeri reiterated on Wednesday, January 16, "Based on Quran, God, the passionate and merciful has categorically ruled that the hands of a man or a woman, if proved guilty of theft, should be amputated."

Furthermore, the prosecutor-general insisted that being scared of international protests against the implementation of hudud is "wrong", adding sarcastically, "They (the West) tell us that we are treating the thieves with violence."

Montazeri has admitted, "We have set aside hudud, lest be condemned by the international bodies."

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps' General (IRGC) and deputy commander of the Law Enforcement Force of the Islamic Republic, Ayoub Soleimani, said on Wednesday that there are nearly 200,000 professional thieves and burglars across Iran responsible for 60%-65% of thefts.

Based on the Prosecutor-General's latest comments, if hudud is implemented, the hands of a significant number of these "officially recognized" thieves should be amputated.

Yet, Montazeri has also admitted that, under backbreaking economic pressures, many faithful and God-fearing poverty-stricken people might also be forced to commit theft.

Under hudud, apostasy, sexual rapports outside marriage, sodomy, drinking alcohol, theft, and highway robbery are the crimes that should be punished without any compassion.

International human rights conventions, which Iran is a party of, categorically reject punishments such as amputations and blinding, describing them as "torture".