Thousands flock to see first public hangings in five years

Thousands of Iranians, including children, watched in fascination and horror as two men convicted of murdering a hardline judge were hanged in Tehran yesterday, the first public executions in the capital for five years.

Majid Kavousifar, 28, and his nephew, Hossein Kavousifar, 24, were jostled in handcuffs to two pickup trucks where nooses dangling from cranes 5m (16ft) high were tied around their necks.

Before them was a huge portrait of Hassan Moghaddas, the judge whom they shot dead in his car in front of his central Tehran office two years ago. When the hoods of his killers were removed, the older man smiled and puffed out his chest. He waved at the crowd and chatted to his executioner, whose face was masked. The nephew was silent, trembling and in tears.

The hangmen kicked away the wooden stools on which the two stood, the ropes snapped tight, and a shout of “God is greatest” erupted from the crowd. The older man appeared to die instantly. His nephew writhed for a few seconds before his body went slack.

Some onlookers laughed. Others, perched on the roofs of buildings, captured the scene on mobile phone cameras.

The tearful mother of one of the killers cried: “God, please give me back my son.” From a balcony through loudspeakers, an official boomed: “Death to hypocrites! Death to the terrorists! Death to America!”

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