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The Iranian authorities must immediately halt the execution of Mahmoud Barati, a teacher who was convicted of drug-related offenses following an unfair trial that is believed to have included a confession obtained through torture and other ill-treatment, Amnesty International said.

“Mahmoud Barati’s execution must immediately be halted. International law does not allow for the use of death penalty for drug-related offences. The Iranian authorities must immediately quash his death sentence,” said Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International.

“The Iranian authorities must end their unprecedented killing spree – more than 700 people have been executed so far this year, most of them convicted on drug-related charges.”

According to a contact in Ghezel Hesar prison, following his arrest 10 years ago, Mahmoud Barati was held in a detention centre of the Office to Combat Drug Offences for 10 days where he was allegedly subjected to torture and other ill-treatment to “confess”. He subsequently made statements to both the prosecutor and the court retracting these “confessions."

The prison contact also raised concerns that the principal witness against Mahmoud Barati may have retracted his testimony.

Iran’s Anti-Narcotics Law provides mandatory death sentences for a range of drug-related offences, including trafficking more than 5kg of narcotics derived from opium or more than 30g of heroin, morphine, cocaine or their chemical derivatives.

This is in direct breach of international law, which restricts the use of the death penalty to only the “most serious crimes” – those involving intentional killing. Drug-related offenses do not meet this threshold.

There is also no evidence to prove that the death penalty is a particular deterrent to crime and drug trafficking or use. Earlier this year, the deputy of Iran’s Centre for Strategic Research admitted that the death penalty has not been able to reduce drug trafficking levels.