“I looked for my boy for nine months…all we got was a handful of bones”
It would be wrong to assume that hard-line Islamic countries like Iran are not too troubled by serial killers. The press nicknamed Mohammed Bijeh the Tehran Desert Vampire. Born on 7 February 1975, he worked at a brick kiln. With his partner Ali Baghi (also known as Ali Gholampour) he would entice children into the desert south of Teheran on the pretext of hunting animals.
Away from safety, he would knock the children out and sexually abuse them before burning or burying them in shallow graves. Afghan refugee Basre Shirzad whose son was one of Bijeh’s victims commented, “I looked for my boy for nine months. After nine months all we got was a all we got was a handful of bones.” It is not known how many victims Bijeh really claimed but the official figures vary between 19 and 22.
Bijeh was tried in camera where he gleefully confessed to murdering 16 boys aged between eight and 15. He said he wanted revenge on society because his stepmother had abused him as a child. Found guilty, he was sentenced to 100 lashes and then execution. A crowd of about 5,000 people gathered to watch the sentence being carried out at Pakdasht, south-east of Tehran on 16 March 2005.
A succession of clerics administered the whipping and Bijeh collapsed twice although he did not cry out. Then Bijeh was hoisted 10 m (35 ft) in the air where he was slowly throttled to death.
As Bijeh was being prepared for execution the 17 year-old brother of victim Rahim Younessi ran up and stabbed him before a mother in a black chador, Milad Kahani, put the blue nylon noose around his neck. Hanging by a crane does not involve a swift death, as the prisoner’s neck is not broken. Ali Baghi was given a 15-year prison term and 100 lashes.
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Police cars with loud speakers patrolled the area informing the locals where and when the execution was to be held.