Key Points:

TEHRAN - A thief convicted of multiple robberies had four fingers amputated in public in west Iran today, the official IRNA news agency reported.

The 46-year-old, named as F Hosseini, had committed 22 offences, mostly involving opening safes, a judicial official in the western city of Kermanshah said.

Under Iran's Islamic law, repeat offenders face amputation of their fingers for theft, but sentences are seldom carried out, especially in public. In recent years, such sentences have rarely been reported.

The United Nations and rights activists have in the past criticised Iran for such amputations. Iran dismisses the criticism, saying the sentences are part of Islamic sharia law.