IRAN: War on Drugs

A judge gets tough

In a crowded Tehran courtroom, five frightened defendants faced the empty bench. The judge, a scowling, bearded figure who was also acting as prosecutor, circled behind them and cursed, "I shall exterminate you vermin!" Then, without permitting a word to be spoken in their defense, he meted out the sentences. "Those two—execution," he barked. "This one —life imprisonment. The other two—100 lashes each." As Islamic guards led out the two men to be whipped, the judge called out after them, "Remember, every lash must draw blood."

With that five-minute trial, Ayatullah Sadegh Khalkhali, Iran's notorious "hanging judge," dispensed...

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