Earlier this month, Alireza (37), sentenced to death for smuggling drugs in Iran, was hanged for possessing a kilo of crystal meth and exactly 12 minutes later, pronounced dead. But in the morgue the next day, something unusual caught the eyes of a worker who was preparing the corpse for family collection: steam in the plastic cover he was wrapped in. He was still alive.

Alireza was instantly taken to Bojnurd’s Imam Ali hospital. Now, to the dismay of his family, judicial authorities are waiting for him to make a full recovery before they hang him again, according to the state-run Jam-e-Jam newspaper, which broke the news.

Iran’s judiciary has argued that he was sentenced to death, rather than to hanging, and should be re-executed. But activists, already concerned about Iran’s rate of executions, say he should be spared.

Under Iranian law, convicts should be conscious and relatively healthy before execution. When someone is sentenced to death by stoning in Iran, if they manage to climb out of the ground after being buried up to the neck or somehow survive the ordeal, their life is spared. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2013

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