Iranian officials purportedly unveil machine to amputate fingers of thieves

Iran has purportedly unveiled its latest method of punishing convicted criminals — a rudimentary machine that amputates the fingers of thieves.

The images, which were released last week by Iran’s ISNA news service, depict three masked officials holding the convicted man’s right hand in a vice as another turns the guillotine much like a rotary saw. The unidentified prisoner had been convicted of theft and adultery by a court in Shiraz last Wednesday.

The man — whose face is expressionless, suggesting he may have been drugged — was also sentenced to three years in prison and 99 whip lashes in addition to losing his fingers on one hand, France 24 reports.

Ali Alghasi, the Shiraz district's public prosecutor, announced following the public amputation that sentences doled out to convicted criminals will become increasingly severe.

Mahmoud Amiry-Moghaddam, a spokesman for Iran Human Rights, said public executions tend to increase in frequency near elections in the Islamic state.

“We have noticed that the authorities have recently being making more and more publicity surrounding cases of corporal punishment,” Amiry-Mohghaddam told France 24. “Every time we get closer to an election, the number of these incidents increases. And we’re getting quite close to the presidential election [slated for June]. I believe this is a strategy to instill fear in the population so as to avoid any protests.”

Two thieves were hanged in public in Tehran on Jan. 20. They had been caught on video robbing a man of the equivalent of $26 at knifepoint.

Under Iran’s penal code, amputation, whipping and death by stoning are legal forms of punishment.

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