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Public hanging at dawn for Iranian who killed Islamic militiaman

TEHRAN, Iran, December 29, 1999 (AFP) - The young man who murdered a member of Iran's volunteer Islamic Basiji militia is to be hanged in public at dawn Sunday, a newspaper reported.

The Iran daily said Wednesday that Morteza Amini-Moghadam would be hanged at Imam Hossein Square in the southeast of the capital after being found guilty of the stabbing death of 22-year-old Basiji militiaman Hadi Mohebi.

Amini-Moghadem, part of a gang of eight youths, reportedly attacked Mohebi and criticised him for his religious zeal, particularly his complaint that local youths were harassing young women.

Mohebi's family asked for application of Iran's strict eye-for-an-eye law of retribution, put in place after the 1979 Islamic revolution. But Amini-Moghadem's family said their son was not yet 18 years old and should not be put to death.

His main accomplice, Hamid Nazemi, was sentenced to 15 years in prison and 75 lashes.

The murder sparked sharp reaction from conservative circles. The five-million-strong Basiji are under the direct command of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

In July they helped quell the six days of violent unrest that erupted after a student protest over the court-ordered closure of a moderate newspaper was attacked by security forces and Islamic militants.