An Iranian man who was sentenced to execution by hanging and survived may or may not face execution again, reports the British Guardian.
The man, 37-year-old Alireza M, was jailed for smuggling drugs and sentenced to death. Earlier this month, he was hanged and pronounced dead but was found to be alive in the morgue the next day.
Media reports in Iran have said the judicial authorities are planning to hang Alireza again on the basis that he was sentenced to lose his life, rather than just to be hanged. A fatwa issued by the Shiite grand ayatollah Lotfollah Safi Golpaygani has been cited as justification for re-executing him, according to the Guardian.
However, a statement issued on behalf of Golpaygani on Thursday said his religious ruling should not be applied to Alireza's case and noted that the ayatollah had "another view" about his destiny.
According to the semi-official Mehr news agency, Golpaygani has a fatwa in the second volume of his religious rulings, which says, "After the execution and before the burial, if the convict comes back to life while in the morgue or at the coroner's office and recovers after treatment, the verdict for Qisas (retribution) or Had (punishment) remains viable."
Human rights activists, already concerned about Iran's high rate of executions, say Alireza should be spared under international law, which forbids "cruel and unusual punishment," according to the Guardian.
There are also concerns that Iran is botching hundreds of executions, leaving people to die slow, agonizing deaths, because the sheer volume of killings being carried out means they are not being done "professionally," the report said.
Iran regularly executes people who are convicted of murder, rape, armed robbery, drug trafficking, adultery and espionage.
According to Amnesty International, at least 508 people may have been executed in Iran this year.
In 2011, Iran put to death more than twice as many people as it did the year before.