The embattled Iranian government is increasingly resorting to the most severe punishment — execution — as it tries to tamp down a wave of financial crimes amid an economic downturn fueled in part by tough U.S. sanctions, according to activists and human rights groups.
Newly formed “corruption courts” have overseen high-profile executions, including the hanging of a notorious smuggler whom Tehran’s police labeled the “Sultan of Coins” and his alleged accomplice, Washington Times reported.
Mazloumin and Mohammad Ismail Ghasemi were put to death last month after their convictions on charges of manipulating gold prices and “spreading corruption.”
Iranian officials insist the moves are required to control a surge of black-market activity that has thrived amid the Islamic republic’s economic troubles. The downturn has been accelerated by the Trump administration’s reimposition of a near-total embargo on Iran after Washington withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal this year.
But leading rights activists view the anti-corruption drive with deep skepticism. They dismiss the legal proceedings as little more than “kangaroo courts” that violate international law.
“This is an effort to distract Iranians from seeing how much poorer they are now than they were a year ago,” said Shirin Nariman, a spokeswoman for the Organization of Iranian American Communities.
Nariman, who was imprisoned in Iran at age 17, told The Washington Times that the anti-corruption proceedings