Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani

The head of Iran’s judiciary says the execution of two prisoners convicted of armed robbery was in the “interest of the Islamic society.”

ISNA reports that Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani said: “Security is one of the chief necessities of civil society, and we must in no way be sentimental about it. It is clear that the judiciary is saddened by executions, but when the issue concerns social security, we cannot close our eyes to reality.”

Alireza Mafiha and Mohammad Ali Sarvari were hanged in public for assaulting and robbing an individual on the streets of Tehran.

The incident was captured by surveillance videos and posted on Youtube and later broadcast on Iranian public television.

Critics claim the punishment far exceeded the crime committed. The two perpetrators threatened and assaulted their victim with a machete and robbed him of his wallet.

Larijani insisted that without “firm confrontation” of such crimes, society would face worse situations.

Mafiha and Sarvari, both in their twenties, were hanged in a public park where the crime reportedly took place.

The execution of the two young men has drawn criticism from many human rights activists, who claim that executions, especially in public, perpetuate violence in society.