Tehran, July 12 (IANS) The Iranian authorities have publicly flogged a man who was convicted of consuming alcohol when he was 14 or 15, in a move denounced by Amnesty International as "horrific".
Local media published photographs of the man -- identified only as M.R. -- being given 80 lashes in a square in the eastern city of Kashmar on Tuesday.
Prosecutors said he was arrested in the Iranian year of 1385 (March 2006-March 2007) and sentenced the next year, the BBC reported on Thursday. It was not clear why the punishment was carried out over 10 years later.
Amnesty in a statement issued late on Wednesday called the flogging "horrific" and "absolutely shocking" and said it violated international law as well as international conventions on civil and children's rights.
The statement included an image showing a young man tied to a tree as he was being flogged by a masked man with a crowd of people watching at a distance.
When contacted, Amnesty could not independently verify that the image was of the flogging in Kashmar and said that the photo attached to its report was from Iranian news coverage of the incident.
"No one, regardless of age, should be subjected to flogging; that a child was prosecuted for consuming alcohol and sentenced to 80 lashes beggars belief," said Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa Director Philip Luther.
The Young Journalists Club website quoted Kashmar's prosecutor as saying M.R. consumed alcohol at a wedding where an argument caused a fight in which a 17-year-old boy was killed. He was not suspected of involvement in the death.
More than 100 other offences are punishable in Iran by flogging, including theft, assault, vandalism, defamation and fraud, as well as acts that Amnesty said should not be criminalised.
Luther said Iran should abolish all forms of corporal punishment.