- The Washington Times - Monday, January 28, 2013

Iran’s new finger-chopping machine may be touted as a punishment for thieves, but at least one human rights official finds it curious that its unveiling comes at a time when elections dawn and political unrest is high.

“We’re getting quite close to the presidential election [in June],” said Mahmoud Amiry-Moghaddam, a spokesman for Iran Human Rights in Norway, according to a Newser report. “I believe this is a strategy to instill fear in the population so as to avoid any protests.”

Iran has released photographs of the machine in action on a convicted robber and adulterer. Agence France-Presse reported that immediately following the amputation, the nation’s public prosecutor said that sentences against criminals would become increasingly harsh, but he did not explain why.

Islamic law in Iran allows for criminals to be punished with amputation, public whippings and death by stoning, AFP said.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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