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After Abducting Him in 2020, Iran Hangs Trafficking Ring Leader Shahrouz Sokhanvari

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TEHRAN, Iran — In a series of executions that have sparked a global outcry, Iran carried out the death sentence of an international human trafficking and prostitution ringleader on Saturday, May 20, 2023, according to the Iranian judiciary.

The execution followed the controversial hangings of three men tied to protests ignited by the death of a young woman in the country.

“Following confirmation of the sentence of Shahrouz Sokhanvari, aka Alex, in the supreme court, he was hanged this morning,” stated Mizan Online on Saturday, May 20, 2023, the judiciary’s news website.

Sokhanvari, who left Iran in 1983, was captured abroad and repatriated in 2020 under undisclosed circumstances.

Charged with “corruption on earth”, Sokhanvari had been found guilty of “establishing and managing a wide network of prostitution at the international level, which has been attracting Iranian and foreign girls”, according to Mizan.

His execution came on the heels of another act that drew widespread condemnation: the hanging of three men accused of “waging war against God” by killing three security force members during a protest in Isfahan on November 16, 2022.

The protest was part of a wave of nationwide demonstrations set off by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd arrested for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s dress code for women.

“These executions not only serve as a chilling reminder of Iran’s treatment of dissent and its approach to justice, but also of its ongoing use of the death penalty at alarming rates,” voiced a representative of the Norway-based Iran Human Rights group.

Since the beginning of the year, Iran has executed more than 220 people, making it second only to China in terms of annual executions, as reported by various human rights groups, including Amnesty International.

The human rights group also reported that at least 582 people were executed in Iran last year, marking the highest number since 2015.

Western nations and international human rights groups are increasingly vocal in their criticism of the Islamic Republic’s use of the death penalty, especially in politically charged cases such as the recent Isfahan protest-related deaths.

Iran, however, remains unyielding in its stance, despite the growing global pressure.

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