Crowds cheer `vampire' hanging

Tehran (Reuter) - An Iranian serial killer dubbed "Tehran Vampire" was hanged from a mobile crane in Tehran yesterday as a crowd of about 20,000 people looked on.

The crowd gathered at dawn at the Olympic Village district in west Tehran to see 28-year-old Gholamreza Khoshrou Kouran Kordieh lashed by his victims' male relatives before his public execution. Khoshrou was condemned to death after confessing on television to the kidnap, rape and murder of nine girls and women aged 10 to 47 in four months this year.

Khoshrou carried out his crimes by night, posing as a freelance taxi driver, thus earning himself the title of the Tehran vampire.

"Innocent blood will always be avenged," a robed cleric told the crowd before the sentence was carried out.

Verses from the Koran, were relayed through loudspeakers to onlookers who had fought through two-mile traffic jams to get to the scene.

The crowd, kept away from the crane by a line of police, surged to the wall when Khoshrou was brought in front of them with his hands tied.

Officials threw Khoshrou down on his stomach where he was then given 214 lashes by male relatives of the victims. Members of the crowd counted out the number of lashes and cheered the relatives. Khoshrou was then led to the crane where a rope was placed around his neck before being slowly winched off the ground.

"He deserves worse," said Maryam Bakhti, a 29-year-old graduate, who said she got into Khoshrou's car one evening in 1994 and had to fight her way out of the car after he drove down a dark side street.

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