Matteo Renzi Rouhani Iran statues
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi Reuters

Eight people were executed in Iran while Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was in the Islamic Republic to re-establish trade ties. The executions took place at notorious Gohardasht Prison in Karaj, with six of the eight men named by the National Council of Resistance of Iran as Ebad Mohammadi, Javad Sadeqi, Mohammad-Javad Mozzafari, Mostafa Ejlali, Hamzeh Dowlatabadi, and Mehdi Haq-Shenas.

This follows several reports by Amnesty International that highlighted the "alarmingly high" number of executions in the Islamic Republic.

Figures from the charity show Iran has the second highest number of executions in the world, after China, with the majority of the 977 people executed in the Islamic Republic charged with drug offences.

The number of executions around the world reached a 25-year high in 2015 after a 54% rise in the number of people put to death compared with 2014. This was partly blamed on the increase in the number of executions in Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Amnesty's secretary general, Salil Shetty, said at the release of its report into executions in early April: "The rise in executions last year is profoundly disturbing. Not for the last 25 years have so many people been put to death by states around the world.

"Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have all put people to death at unprecedented levels, often after grossly unfair trials. This slaughter must end."