Iran hangs two men for alleged crimes committed during protests - judiciary

Iranian authorities are seeking the death penalty for at least 26 others in what it called "sham trials designed to intimidate protesters in the popular uprising that has rocked the country."

 Iranian women chant during a protest condemning the Shiraz attack and unrest in Tehran, Iran October 28, 2022 (photo credit: WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY/REUTERS)
Iranian women chant during a protest condemning the Shiraz attack and unrest in Tehran, Iran October 28, 2022
(photo credit: WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY/REUTERS)

Iran hanged two men on Saturday for allegedly killing a security official during nationwide protests that followed the death of 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Amini on Sept. 16.

The two men executed on Saturday had been convicted of killing a member of the Basij paramilitary force militia. Three others have been sentenced to death in the same case, while 11 received prison sentences.

"Mohammad Mehdi Karami and Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini, principle perpetrators of the crime that led to the unjust martyrdom of Ruhollah Ajamian were hanged this morning," the judiciary said in a statement carried by the official IRNA news agency.

The latest executions bring to four the number of protesters officially known to have been executed in the aftermath of the unrest.

Amnesty International said last month that Iranian authorities are seeking the death penalty for at least 26 others in what it called "sham trials designed to intimidate protesters in the popular uprising that has rocked the country."

It said all of those facing death sentences had been denied the right to adequate defense and access to lawyers of their choosing. Rights groups say defendants have instead had to rely on state-appointed attorneys who do little to defend them.

 Iranians protest, holding signs with slogans such as ''women, life, freedom'' and'' ''I swear by the good blood of Iran it will be free.'' December 2022 (credit: 1500tasvir) Iranians protest, holding signs with slogans such as ''women, life, freedom'' and'' ''I swear by the good blood of Iran it will be free.'' December 2022 (credit: 1500tasvir)

Continuing forced confessions

Amnesty said the court that convicted Karami, a 22-year-old karate champion, relied on forced confessions.

Hosseini's lawyer Ali Sharifzadeh Ardakani said in a Dec. 18 tweet that Hosseini had been severely tortured and that confessions extracted under torture had no legal basis.

He said Hosseini was beaten with his hands and feet tied up, kicked in the head until he passed out, and subjected to electric shocks on different parts of his body.

Iran denies that confessions are extracted under torture.

Mahsa Amini died in custody in September after being arrested by morality police enforcing the Islamic Republic's mandatory dress code laws. The protests that ensued represent one of the biggest challenges to the Islamic Republic since its establishment in 1979.

The Basij force, affiliated with Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards, has been behind much of the crackdown.

Iran, which has blamed the unrest on its foreign foes including the United States, sees its crackdown of protests as preserving national sovereignty.

The rights group HRANA said that as of Friday, 517 protesters had been killed during unrest, including 70 minors. It said 68 members of the security forces had also been killed.

As many as 19,262 protesters are believed to have been arrested, it said.

Iranian officials have said that up to 300 people, including members of the security forces, have died.

The first protester known to be executed was 23-year-old Mohsen Shekari on Dec. 8, less than three months after his arrest. He was accused of burning a trash bin, blocking a road, stabbing a member of the Basij militia with a machete and threatening public safety.

Majid Reza Rahnavard, 23, was hanged from a crane in public on Dec. 12 in the northeastern city of Mashhad, less than a month after his arrest. He was accused of stabbing to death two Basij members and wounding four other people in Mashhad.

Britain says Iran's execution of two protesters is "abhorrent"

British foreign minister James Cleverly on Saturday condemned Iran's execution of two protesters and urged it to "immediately end the violence against its own people."

"The execution of Mohammad Mahdi Karami and Seyed Mohammad Hosseini by the Iranian regime is abhorrent," Cleverly said on Twitter. "The UK is strongly opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances."

Iran hanged the two men for allegedly killing a member of the security forces during nationwide protests that started after the death of 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Amini last September.