"Again! Kill him again!" people shouted as Mohammad Bijeh's body swayed above the main square of the town of Pakdasht.
An Iranian serial killer convicted of kidnapping and murdering 21 children was publicly flogged [100 lashes] and hanged on Wednesday before thousands of spectators in this small Iranian town, 40km (25 miles) south-east of the capital, Tehran.
From the early morning police cars drove through the streets announcing the location and the time of the execution.
"At nine in the main square," they yelled into loudspeakers and thousands responded to these calls. Soon the square was full of people.
Between 3,000 and 5,000 spectators — including women and children — gathered to watch the flogging and hanging. Riot police circled the area.
Mohammad Bijeh was branded “the vampire of the desert” in the Iranian press.
When Bijeh was placed in a position to be hanged, a young 17-year-old boy -- the brother of victim Rahim Younessi -- managed to break through the police barrier and stab a knife in the killer's back.
A blue nylon rope was placed around Bijeh's neck by the mother of another murdered child.
The killings began more than two years ago but did not come to light for a long time because most of the victims came from families of illegal Afghan refugees who were afraid to report their children were missing.
Bijeh and his accomplice, Ali Baghi, were arrested in September 2004. Both were initially sentenced to hang, but in January the Supreme Court ruled that Baghi should instead serve 15 years behind bars.
The crowd on Wednesday also called for Baghi to be hanged.
Convicts are hanged in public in Iran only if a court deems that their offenses deeply affected public sentiment.
Crowd Sees Rapist Hanged In Iran [CBS, Mar. 16, 2005]
Iranian serial killer lashed and hanged in public [IranMania.com, Mar. 16, 2005, more pictures]
Iran town rejoices at public hanging [BBC, Mar. 16, 2005]
Iran's 'desert vampire' executed [BBC, Mar. 16, 2005]
'Vampire' flogged, stabbed and hanged in public [Ths Australian, Mar. 17, 2005]
Iranian child serial killer to be hanged [IranMania.com, Jan. 19, 2005]