TEHERAN - AN IRANIAN firing squad on Saturday executed a man who raped 17 children, the Fars news agency reported, in a rare use of this method of capital punishment which is usually carried out by hanging.
The man, identified as Reza Sharifi, was executed in the central city of Mobarakeh in Isfahan province for raping the children aged between seven and 11, the report said.
He preyed upon elementary school pupils by deceiving them and saying he would take them home.
Then he would take his victims into nearby gardens and rape them before leaving them on the streets.
Iran has now put to death 25 convicts this year, according to media reports. At least 298 people were executed in 2007.
The number of executions soared last year amid a campaign which the authorities said was aimed at improving security in society, and was sharply up on 2006 figures when Amnesty International recorded 177 executions.
Iran currently makes more use of the death penalty than any other country apart from China.
Capital offences in the Islamic republic include murder, rape, armed robbery, serious drug trafficking and adultery.
Human rights groups have accused Iran of excessive resort to the death penalty, but the authorities say capital punishment is an effective deterrent that is used only after an exhaustive judicial process. -- AFP