Zahra Bahrami hanged 'before trial completion'

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Zahra Bahrami's lawyer says she was hanged before the file relating to a second trial on her political activities was completed. Iran's ambassador to the Netherlands has confirmed that the Iranian-Dutch woman was executed after being sentenced to death for possessing and selling drugs.

Ms Bahrami, a 46-year-old Iranian-born naturalised Dutch citizen, was reportedly arrested in December 2009 after joining an anti-government protest while visiting relatives in the Islamic republic. The prosecutor's office confirmed on Saturday that she had been arrested for "security crimes."

Ms Bahrami's lawyer, Jinoos Sharif Razi, says the file on her political activities had not even been completed. He is therefore shocked that the execution has been carried out. According to Amnesty International, Iran had promised to postpone the execution until the file had been completed as part of her trial.

Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal voiced outrage and summoned the Iranian ambassador to demand an explanation. The Hague has suspended all official contacts with Iran.

On Thursday, the foreign ministry told Radio Netherlands Worldwide it had engaged two lawyers to assist Ms Bahrami in her trial. The ministry said it had done all it could to defend her. Iran's ambassador had said a number of legal recourses were still available.

The Iranian authorities, however, refused Dutch embassy staff access to Ms Bahrami on the grounds that she was not a Dutch but an Iranian national.

Last week, Ms Bahrami was reported to have been moved to a ward for drug convicts in Tehran's notorious Evin prison. The ward is thought to house inmates deemed too dangerous to have as much contact with the outside world as other prisoners.

"Ms Bahrami is the first woman to be sentenced to death for joining a demonstration", says Sadagh Nagashkar, a Dutch-Iranian staff member of Human Rights Activists for Democracy in Iran. "It is unusual," Mr Nagashkar says, "to carry out the death penalty so soon after the sentencing. The aim is to frighten people."

Earlier this week, Ms Bahrami's daughter insisted her mother had been wrongfully convicted and never had had anything to do with drugs. The daughter, Banafsheh Nayebpour, says Iran used the accusation to shift attention away from politics. Critics of Iran's regime, she points out, are regularly arrested on false accusations.

Under Iranian law, adultery, murder, drug trafficking and other major crimes are punishable by death.