Nov. 14 (UPI) — Iran executed two men accused of hoarding gold coins to manipulate the market price on Wednesday.
Vahid Mazloumin — a gold dealer known as the “Sultan of Coins” — and his assistant, Mohammad Esmail Qassemi, were hanged after being sentenced to death in October for forming an illegal gold trading network with the aim of increasing prices.
Ultimately Mazloumin and his team amassed 2 tons of gold coins to resell on the market at higher prices.
He was arrested in July for operating as a speculator and Qassemi was also arrested on charges of “spreading corruption” for his role in the operation.
Amnesty International condemned the “abhorrent executions,” saying Iranian authorities “flagrantly violated international law” by executing the men for non-lethal crimes.
“Use of the death penalty is appalling under any circumstances but it is even more horrific given that these men were convicted after a grossly unfair show trial that was broadcast on state television,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s research and advocacy director for Middle East and North Africa.
Luther also criticized efforts by Iran to move the trials for the men along quickly.
“The shocking manner in which their trial was fast-tracked through Iran’s judicial system without allowing them the chance of a proper appeal is yet another example of the brazen disregard the Iranian authorities have for defendants’ basic due process rights,” he said.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei approved a judicial request in August establishing a special court for those suspected of financial crimes, which has since sentenced several people to death.
Police in Tehran said Tuesday that about 130 illegal currency traders had been arrested within the past few days.
The country has sought to send a message to merchants not to exploit its market while its economy has been hampered by sanctions imposed by the United States.
Khamenei said Wednesday that Iran “can solve its economic problems by correctly using its domestic resources.”