Iran has sentenced three teenagers to have four fingers amputated each as a punishment for stealing.
Hadi Rostami, Mehdi Sharafian and Mehdi Shahivand, whose exact ages are not known, were handed the punishment on Thursday after a failed attempt to appeal.
They were originally tried on November 2 last year on four counts of robbery at a court in the city of Urmia, in northern Iran close to the border with Turkey.
The trio have been in jail since their trial, and are still being held as a date for the punishment to be carried out has not been set.
Iran has sentenced three teenagers to have four fingers amputated from their right hands as a punishment for stealing in the city of Urmia (file image, a man has his hand placed into a machine that Iran uses to amputate fingers)
Iran has not released any details about the crimes.
Nargess Tavalossian, a legal analyst for Iran International TV, said: ‘Amputation as a form of punishment is rare in Iran.
‘To have this type of punishment there are 13 rules that all need to apply for the judge to order an amputation.
‘Judges usually avoid issuing such punishment by saying that 12 out of the 13 rules are met and amputation is therefore not required.’
‘Such punishment is also rare against teenagers, but the appeal court ruled that adolescents are not protected by the law.
Iran’s penal code is based on a strict interpretation of Sharia law, which for first time thieves calls for ‘amputation of the full length of four fingers of the right hand of the thief in such a manner that the thumb and palm of the hand remain.’
Second offenders face ‘amputation of the left foot in such a manner that half of the sole and part of the place of anointing [during religious ceremonies] remain.’
The teenagers were handed the sentence on Thursday at a court in Urmia after their legal appeal failed when a judge ruled that juveniles are not exempt from the punishment
For third and fourth-time offenders, the law proscribes life imprisonment and the death penalty, respectively.
It is not clear how many people are subjected to amputation each year in Iran, since the regime keeps most cases secret to avoid international backlash.
Human rights watchdog Amnesty International confirmed at least two dozen amputations in the country between 2008 and 2015.
In a report on Iran’s justice system, Amnesty International said: ‘Amputation is torture plain and simple, and administering torture is a crime under international law.
‘As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Iran is legally obliged to forbid torture in all circumstances and without exception.
‘Those responsible for ordering and executing such practices should know that they are liable to criminal prosecution under international law.’