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Malaysian court sentences three Iranians to hang

KUALA LUMPUR: A Malaysian court on Friday sentenced three Iranians to hang for trafficking methamphetamine, their lawyer said.

A high court outside the capital Kuala Lumpur found the three men guilty of drug trafficking, which carries a mandatory death penalty in Malaysia, defense lawyer Ramesh Sivakumar said.

Authorities arrested the three at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in February last year following a tip-off after they arrived from Dubai.

The three -- Mahdi Afrasiabi, 29, Arshad Mohamad Senjedeh, 29, and Hosein Sakeri, 40 -- were found to have swallowed up to 70 capsules each containing a total of almost 900 grams (32 ounces) of methamphetamine, Ramesh said.

The court dismissed their defense that they did not know the pills contained methamphetamine, he said.

Ramesh said he would appeal the verdict. Cases for other Iranians, who he also represents, are still pending in court, he said.

Malaysia has seen a sharp rise in the number of Iranians detained on drug trafficking charges with 138 arrested from January to October last year, compared to 16 in the whole of 2009, according to police figures.

According to government figures, some 700 prisoners, mostly men, were on death row as of February this year. More than two-thirds of those involved drug offences.

 
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