Iran hangs rapist, 3 drug traffickers: Report

Iran says the death penalty is essential to maintain law and order.

Tehran: Iran has hanged a convicted rapist and three men found guilty of drug trafficking in the southwestern city of Ahvaz, hardline Kayhan newspaper reported on Sunday.

Kayhan identified the convicted rapist only as GhF and said he was found guilty of "acting against virtue" – the charge brought against rapists in the Islamic republic.

The three drug traffickers were also identified only by their initials -- AA, HM and JJ.

The four were executed yesterday in the prison of Ahvaz, the newspaper said citing the provincial judiciary.

The latest hangings bring the number of executions in Iran to at least 167 so far this year, according to a count based on media reports. At least 270 people were executed in 2009.

Along with China, Saudi Arabia and the United States, Iran has one of the highest numbers of executions each year.

The Islamic republic says the death penalty is essential to maintain law and order and is applied only after exhaustive judicial proceedings.

Murder, rape, armed robbery, drug trafficking and adultery are all punishable by death in Iran.