Iran reviews execution for accused teenage rapist

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TEHRAN, Nov 17 (Reuters) The execution of an Iranian man accused of raping three boys when he was 13 has been put on hold and the case will be reviewed, an Iranian daily said today.

US-based Human Rights Watch has called on the Islamic Republic to prevent the execution of Makwan Mouloudzadeh, saying the 20-year-old was sentenced to death in May despite retractions from his accusers.

Citing the defence lawyer, daily Etemad-e Melli said judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi ordered that the execution be stopped because in this case it was against Iran's Islamic sharia law. He did not elaborate.

The daily did not say when the execution had been due or if a date had been set.

Etemad-e Melli, which only gave the first name of the accused, said he was arrested in September last year near his family home in the western province Kermanshah and paraded around the town of Paveh on a donkey.

Human Rights Watch said in a statement this month that Iran leads the world in executing juvenile offenders -- those who are under 18 at the time of the crime.

Fellow rights group Amnesty International said in September it had recorded a total of 210 executions so far in Iran this year, compared with 177 for all of 2006, giving Iran one of the highest rates of execution in the world.

Iran dismisses criticism of its human rights record, arguing it is it is implementing Islamic law.

REUTERS PD BD1530

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