TEHRAN, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- An Iranian ambassador defended severe physical punishments carried out against violators of Islamic law, it was reported Saturday.
Seyed Davoud Salehi, Iran's ambassador to Spain, said amputating the feet and hands of thieves was like, "a surgeon amputating a limb to prevent the spread of gangrene," The Daily Telegraph reported.
"Our laws allow for the amputation of the hand that steals. This is not accepted by the West, but the field of human rights should take into account the customs, traditions, religion and economic development," Salehi was reported saying in the Spanish newspaper El Mundo.
While giving a speech in Madrid, Salehi reportedly said Iranian lawmakers decided to decrease public executions in an effort to avoid vocal opposition.
Iran rates second, behind China, for having the highest recorded cases of executions in the world, Amnesty International reported.
Iran had a 70 percent increase for executions in 2007, with more than 300 individuals condemned.