Calm Returns to Iran Prison After Protest by Inmates

 – Order has been restored at a prison in southwest Iran, the state news agency IRNA reported on Friday, after prisoners reportedly started a fire to protest against a fellow inmate’s death sentence and shots were heard.

“The prison situation was briefly unsettled after a number of prisoners provoked clashes, but calm was restored immediately after the presence of prison officers and the facility returned to normal,” IRNA reported, citing the state prisons administration.

The semi-official news agency Mehr said earlier that some inmates at the prison in Ramhormoz, a city in Khuzestan province, had started a fire after a death sentence was issued against a fellow inmate, and gunfire had been heard.

Iran, which carries out the world’s highest number of executions after China, has often faced criticism by rights groups.

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“Iranian authorities have executed at least 173 people convicted of drug-related offences this year after systematically unfair trials, nearly three times more than this time last year,” Amnesty International said in a report in June.

Iran blames the high number of executions on heavy drug trafficking through the country from neighbouring Afghanistan, the world’s main opium producer. Tehran also rejects criticism of its legal system, saying it is based on a lack of understanding by Western rights groups of its Islamic laws.

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Chris Reese and Cynthia Osterman)