Iran has sentenced four men to have four fingers amputated each as a punishment for theft and the verdicts have now been sent to the Urmia Judiciary’s Implementation Office for execution.
Three men – identified as Hadi Rostami, 34, Mehdi Shahivand, 42 and 36 year old Mehdi Sharifian, were arrested by the Urmia Intelligence Department in 2015 and were originally tried on November 2 last year on four counts of robbery at a court in the city of Urmia, in northern Iran.
After four years in prison, they were sentenced by the 1st Branch of the Special Children and Youth Criminal Court to finger amputation.
Hadi Rostami said in court that he was tortured to accept a theft he did not carry out in Bandar-e Anzali, northern Iran. He also said that he accepted theft charges in Ardebil in northwestern Iran because he was afraid of telling the truth.
The fourth man is Kasra Karami, whose right-hand amputation was issued earlier than the previous three in 2017.
Despite attempts to appeal the decision, the 13th Branch of the Supreme Court’s judges this week upheld the verdict.
The finger amputation sentences have now been sent to the Urmia Judiciary’s Implementation Office for execution.
The men were sentenced according to article 278 of the Islamic Penal Code which calls for “amputation of the full length of four fingers of the right hand of the thief in such a manner that the thumb and palm of the hand remain.”
It is unclear when the judicial measure will be carried out, and authorities have not issued any further details about the extent or nature of their crimes.
Human rights activists have expressed concerns about the possible execution of the sentence.
Iranian authorities have generally defended the form of punishment as the best way to deter theft.
Last year, Iran’s Prosecutor-General criticized the “low numbers” of hand amputation punishments in Iran.
He expressed regret that a number of “divine punishments” are set aside to save Iran from being condemned by international bodies.
Mohammad Jafar Montazeri’s comments were published by the Fars News Agency in January 2019.
He said that the hands of thieves had to be amputated but that “unfortunately, so as not be condemned on human rights issues in the United Nations, we have abandoned some of the divine laws.”