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Varoujan Petrosian, an Armenian Iranian Christian, was executed in March, Mohabat News reports. The charges against him are unknown, but raise concern for other Christians who are currently imprisoned in Iran for their faith.

By Stefan J. Bos

3/27/2011 Iran (BosNewsLife) – Iran has secretly executed a Jewish-Armenian couple and three other persons, raising concerns about other religious minority prisoners in the strict Islamic nation, Iranian Christians and rights activists confirmed Sunday, March 27.

The independent Iranian Christian news agency Mohabat News said Adiva Mirza Soleiman Kalimi, a Jewish Iranian, and her husband Varoujan Petrosian, an Armenian Iranian Christian, were executed in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. One other woman and two men, whose identities were not revealed, were also killed, the agency reported.

The Human Rights Activists News Agency, founded by Iranian activists, said the execution was confirmed by a branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Court based inside the Evin prison.

It was not known on what charges the inmates had been sentenced to death. Iranian officials did not provide further details.

There was some confusion about the exact timing of the execution, but several Iranian Christians and rights activists said they believe it happened between Sunday, March 13, and early Monday, March 14, local time.

The executions were expected to increase concerns about other religious minority prisoners, including five Christians who rights activists said face charges of blasphemy that carry the death penalty.

Pastor Behrouz Sadegh-Khandjani, Mehdi Furutan, Mohammad Beliad, Parviz Khalaj and Nazly Beliad — all members of the evangelical oriented Church of Iran denomination — are expected to face a blasphemy trial next month, explained advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

The group explained that Christians in Iran are also increasingly concerned for Yousef Nadarkhani, the pastor of a large congregation in the city of Rasht, who was arrested in late 2009.

He remains in prison after having been sentenced to death for the crime of apostasy, “despite there being no articles in the Iranian legal code that refer to such a crime,” CSW observed.

The presiding judge in the Nadarkhani case reportedly based his ruling on texts by Iranian religious scholars. An appeal to the Supreme Court was filed in December, and a hearing is due within two months, according to trial observers.

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