As part of its increasingly harsh punishment of thieves, Iran has introduced a "finger-amputating machine," according to one of the country's official news agencies.
The Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA) has released these photographs of a man having his fingers severed by a mechanical amputation device.
The photos have not been verified as authentic by outside news organizations. But the ISNA caims the man was convicted of theft and adultery in a court in Shiraz, Iran the week prior to his punishment.
None of the photos appear to show the man in pain, leading to speculation that he may have been drugged prior to the amputation.
Following the public punishment, ISNA reports that Ali Alghasi, the Shiraz district's public prosecutor, announced that criminal sentences will become increasingly severe.
He didn't elaborate on what that might mean, but journalist Phoebe Greenwood, writing in the Telegraph, speculates that the public amputation and the announcement "may be an attempt by authorities to deter public protest ahead of June's general elections."
The Iranian government's routine use of public torture and execution is well-documented.
Many human rights groups have registered protests against Iran's penal code and the brutal punishments that people convicted of crimes can face in the country, including the death penalty.
Earlier this month, Amnesty International spoke out against Iran's execution of a 21-year-old man for a crime he allegedly committed when he was 17. According to international law, those under the age of 18 at the time of their alleged offence are considered children and cannot be executed.
"Ali Naderi's execution shows Iran's deplorable disregard for international standards on the death penalty," said Ann Harrison, Deputy Programme Director of Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa.
In its 2012 report, Amnesty said "torture and other ill-treatment in pre-trial detention remained common and committed with impunity."
It goes on to say "sentences of flogging and amputation continued to be imposed and carried out. Sentences of blinding were imposed."
And in August of last year, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report calling on Iran's government to change their penal code.
According to Joe Stork, HRW's deputy Middle East director, penal code provisions in Iran "allow the government to jail, torture, and execute people who criticize the government.
"If Iran wants to comply with its human rights obligations," Stork continues, "it should completely and categorically ban deplorable practices like child executions, limb amputations, and stoning."
The Islamic Penal Code went into effect in Iran in 1991. It is an interpretation of Sharia law, based on the Jafari or Twelver Shia school of jurisprudence, with additional discretionary punishments not specifically laid out in Sharia law.
According to HRW, those discretionary punishments "apply to most of Iran's national security laws, under which political dissidents are convicted and sentenced in revolutionary courts."
Via France 24