Confusion reigns as to the true reason two teenage boys were executed in Iran. Original reports from the region suggested that Mahmoud Asgari, 18, and Ayaz Marhoni, 19, were hanged because they were gay, resulting in outrage among human rights organisations. A petition has been circulated on the Internet condemning the execution on the basis that it took place because of the boys’ homosexuality.

New reports from Human Rights Watch now claim however, that the two Iranians were hanged on July 19 because they were found guilty of sexually assaulting a thirteen-year-old boy some fourteen months earlier. Local newspapers at the time also identified the case in Mashad, Iran as being one of rape.

According to reports, Asgari and Marhoni were involved in a gang rape of a boy at knife-point, after he was attacked near a shopping area. A number of people apparently witnessed the crime. It appears as if the original story circulated by the British gay activist group OutRage!, came about because of a mistranslation of an Iranian article. OutRage! continues to insist that it’s report is accurate stating that its sources say that the boys were hung for consensual homosexual acts.

The executions have also resulted in condemnation because of the young age of the two boys, both of whom were most likely minors at the time of the offence.

“Death is an inhumane punishment, particularly for someone under eighteen at the time of his crimes. All but a handful of countries forbid such executions, Iran should as well, “said Hadi Ghaemi, Iran researcher for Human Rights Watch on the group’s website.

The European Union Presidency has also slated the executions, stating, “The EU recalls its long-held position that capital punishment may not, in any circumstances, be imposed on persons below 18 years of age at the time of the commission of their crime”.

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