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January 12, 2003

Death sentence for drinking alcohol

TEHRAN (Reuters) - An Iranian court has sentenced a teen-ager to death by hanging after he was convicted for a third time of drinking alcohol, the state newspaper Iran said on Saturday.

Under Iran's strict Islamic law, consuming alcohol is forbidden for Muslims and usually punishable by lashes or fines. An offender caught for a third time, however, can be sentenced to death.

The 19-year-old man was arrested when he appeared at a police station in southern Tehran to inquire about two of his friends who had recently been arrested.

Police noticed that the man, whose first name was given as Davoud, had been drinking alcohol and immediately charged him.

"I had been punished twice for drinking three glasses of alcohol and I knew what I was drinking was forbidden under Islamic law," the newspaper quoted Davoud as saying.

Although illegal, alcohol is readily available on Iran's black market.

Despite the sentence, Davoud may escape the gallows. His case was passed on for review after he expressed regret for his drinking exploits and gave a written pledge to avoid alcohol in the future.

Sent by Sourena Mohammadi

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