Iran halts execution of seven people: media
Washington Post / Hossein Jaseb and Frederick Dahl

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's new judiciary chief halted the planned execution on Wednesday of seven convicted criminals, including a man who was under 18 when he stabbed a boy to death, Iranian news agencies reported.

The move was announced four days after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appointed Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani as the new head of the Islamic Republic's judiciary, one of the country's most powerful positions.

Amnesty International has listed Iran as the world's second most prolific executioner in 2008 after China, and says it executed at least 346 people last year.

Human rights groups have also criticized Iran for sentencing minors to death. Iran says it only carries out the death penalty when a prisoner reaches the age of 18.

"Seven convicts, including my client Behnoud Shojaie, were scheduled to be executed in Evin prison this morning," the ILNA news agency quoted lawyer Mohammad Mostafaie as saying.

"Upon the order of the judiciary chief, the execution of my client and the other six convicts were canceled," he said.

The ISNA news agency also carried the lawyer's comments. It was not clear whether the executions would go ahead at a late... >>>

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