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Iran amputates fingers of theft convict; Amnesty International decries 'unspeakably cruel punishment'

Published Jul 30, 2022 9:55 am

Trigger warning: This article contains graphic content.

Iran this week amputated the fingers of a man convicted of theft using a guillotine machine, Amnesty International said on Friday (July 29), decrying an "unspeakably cruel punishment".

Pouya Torabi, in his late thirties, was transferred on an emergency basis to hospital immediately after his fingers were cut off on July 27 in the presence of several officials and a doctor at Tehran's Evin prison, the London-based NGO said.

The action came after the Iranian authorities on May 31 also amputated the fingers of another convict, Sayed Barat Hosseini, without giving him anaesthetic, Amnesty said.

He has since been imprisoned in isolation in Evin prison and denied adequate mental and physical health care for infections and trauma, it added.

"Amputation is judicially-sanctioned torture and therefore a crime under international law. All those who were involved in ordering or implementing these corporal punishments should be prosecuted in fair trials," said Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty's Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

She said at least eight other prisoners in Iran are currently at risk of having their fingers amputated.

"With impunity rife in Iran, more and more people will be subjected to this unspeakably cruel punishment unless the international community takes action."

The UN Human Rights Office had in June expressed concern over the risk of the amputations, urging Iran to do away with any form of corporal punishment.

Amnesty said that both men were transferred to Evin from provincial prisons specially for the implementation of their amputation sentence, carried out at a clinic in the prison in the presence of a doctor.

It said that in April, "a special guillotine machine was installed in Evin to centralise the implementation of amputation sentences issued across the country."

Amnesty said authorities told Sayed Barat Hosseini he could pay to "freeze" the amputated fingers and then have them surgically reattached but he did not have the money to pay for this.

After having his fingers cut off, he immediately lost consciousness due to blood loss and is now held in isolation "in an attempt to prevent news of his punishment and current ill health emerging."

Amputation sentences in Iran involve having four fingers of the right hand cut off, according to Iran's penal code.

According to the Abdorrahman Boroumand Centre, the Iranian authorities have since January 2000 amputated the fingers of at least 131 men.

The implementation of such sentences has been less frequent in recent years but Iran is currently in the throes of a crackdown that has also seen a surge in executions as well as arrests of activists and film directors. (AFP)