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Iran hangs teenage offender

KARAJ, Iran, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- The Iranian government, despite international condemnation, went ahead with the public hanging of a teenage boy Wednesday, a prosecution spokesman confirmed.

Alireza Molla-Soltani, 17, was convicted of killing popular athlete Ruhollah Dadashi during a dispute in July, the Egyptian news organization Bikya Masr reported.

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"Executing juvenile offenders is strictly forbidden under international treaties that Iran has signed up to," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui of Amnesty International based in London.

Iran is one of the few countries to execute juveniles.

Ali Ramezanmanesh, a spokesman for the prosecution, said the boy had reached "religious maturity" under the Islamic lunar calendar that is some 11 days shorter than the solar calendar.

"The law views religious maturity as its criterion which is calculated according to the lunar calendar," he said. "Therefore the convict is over 18 and there are no legal impediments."

A large crowd gathered to watch the hanging which took place in the city of Karaj west of Tehran.

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