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Iranian-Dutch woman Zahra Bahrami hanged in Iran

Reports from Iran say Iranian-Dutch woman Zahra Bahrami was hanged on Saturday for selling and possessing drugs. The authorities dismissed repeated pleas by the Netherlands which had sought details about her case.

Bahrami's execution is the latest in a slew of hangings carried out by the Islamic republic in January. Her execution takes the total number of people hanged in Iran so far this year to 66, according to media reports.

"A drug trafficker named Zahra Bahrami, daughter of Ali, was hanged early on Saturday morning after she was convicted of selling and possessing drugs," the Tehran prosecutor's office said.

Bahrami, a 46-year-old Iranian-born naturalised Dutch citizen, was reportedly arrested in December 2009 after joining a protest against the government while visiting relatives in the Islamic republic.

The prosecutor's office confirmed on Saturday that she had been arrested for "security crimes."

"Drug gang"
But elaborating on her alleged drug smuggling, the office said Bahrami had used her Dutch connections to smuggle narcotics into Iran.

"The convict, a member of an international drug gang, smuggled cocaine to Iran using her Dutch connections and had twice shipped and distributed cocaine inside the country," it said.

During a search of her house, authorities found 450 grams of cocaine and 420 grams of opium, the prosecutor's office said, adding that investigations revealed she had sold 150 grams of cocaine in Iran.

"The revolutionary court sentenced her to death for possessing 450 grams of cocaine and participating in the selling of 150 grams of cocaine," it said.

The Netherlands had been seeking details about Bahrami's case and had accused the Iranian authorities of refusing the Dutch embassy access to the prisoner because they did not recognise her dual nationality.

"I cannot confirm (her execution). Iranian media announced the news, we have not yet been approached by the Iranian authorities," Bengt van Loosdrecht, a Dutch foreign ministry spokesman, told AFP on Saturday.

Dutch concern
On January 5, Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal expressed "extreme concern" about Bahrami, and said that he had "asked the Iranian authorities to provide immediate clarification" about her case.

"We insist on information, the possibility to provide her with consular assistance, and a fair course of justice," Mr Rosenthal said in a statement at the time.

Radio Netherlands Worldwide, quoting Bahrami's daughter Banafsheh Najebpour, had reported earlier this month that Bahrami was awaiting trial in a second capital case in which she was accused of being in an armed opposition group.

Bahrami's execution brought the total number of people hanged so far this year in the Islamic republic to 66, according to an AFP tally based on media reports.

There has been a spike in hangings this year in Iran, especially of convicted drug smugglers.

The spate of executions has drawn criticism from Catherine Ashton, Europe's chief diplomat and the point person in talks between world powers and Iran over Tehran's controversial nuclear programme.

"The European Union is deeply concerned about the use of the death penalty in Iran. Executions are taking place at an alarming rate," she said on Thursday.

Ashton's statement came after Iranian state media on Thursday reported the hanging of 10 drug traffickers.

"In addition, abhorrent practices such as public executions and suspension hanging continue to be used, in contravention of Iran’s international obligations," added Ashton, restating the EU policy of global opposition to capital punishment.

Along with China, Saudi Arabia and the United States, Iran has one of the highest numbers of executions each year, with adultery, murder, drug trafficking and other major crimes all punishable by death.

© ANP/AFP

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