Iran hangs first two post-election ‘rioters’

TEHRAN - Iran on Thursday hanged two men convicted of being Mohareb (enemies of God), in the first executions of dissidents since protests over the disputed presidential poll in June, news reports said.

By (AFP)

Published: Sat 30 Jan 2010, 1:10 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 7:43 AM

The hangings drew a strong condemnation from the White House and were also criticised by Amnesty International.

“Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani and Arash Rahmani Pour, whose cases were confirmed by a Tehran appeals court, were hanged on Thursday morning,” ISNA news agency said, quoting the Tehran prosecutor’s office.

The pair were also charged with plotting to topple the Islamic regime, ISNA added.

Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi confirmed the hanging to state-run television.

The two men hanged “belonged to the monarchist group Tondar (the Kingdom Assembly of Iran). During their trials they confessed to obtaining explosives and planning to assassinate officials,” he said.

“They objected to the preliminary sentencing, but the appeals court upheld the verdict and they were hanged today,” Dolatabadi added.

They were the first reported hangings of people tried after the wave of protest that broke out following the re-election last June 12 of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to a second four-year term.

In Tampa, Florida, deputy White House spokesman Bill Burton “strongly” condemned the executions, saying they marked a new low in Tehran’s “ruthless crackdown” on peaceful dissent.

“Murdering political prisoners who are exercising their universal rights will not bring the respect and legitimacy the Islamic Republic seeks,” he said aboard Air Force One.

“It will only serve to further isolate Iran’s government in the world and from its people.”

Amnesty International condemned the hangings, saying “these shocking executions show that the Iranian authorities will stop at nothing to stamp out the peaceful protests that persist since the election.

“These men were first unfairly convicted and now they have been unjustly killed. It is not even clear they had links to this group as their ‘confessions’ appear to have been made under duress,” a statement added.

It said there was fears “these executions are just the beginning of a wave of executions of those tried on similar vaguely worded charges.”

Zamani was among scores of people arrested in the mass demonstrations after the election, but Rahmani Pour’s lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, denied her client had anything to do with the post-poll riots.

“He was arrested in Farvardin (the Iranian month covering March-April) before the election and charged with cooperation with the Kingdom Assembly,” Sotoudeh told AFP.

Sotoudeh said she had been prevented from representing Rahmani Pour at what she called his “show trial” in July, and added that many of the charges related to when he was a minor.

“He confessed because of threats against his family,” she said, adding that she was shocked at the news of the executions because both she and her client’s family had been waiting for word from the appeals court.

The prosecutor’s office said nine other detained protesters have been condemned to death after facing charges of being Mohareb, trying to topple the regime and belonging to the outlawed main opposition group, the People’s Mujahedeen, and the Kingdom Assembly.

Dolatabadi said that out of the nine, “five were arrested on Ashura... they have been tried in two sessions, and they are now waiting for their final verdicts from the appeals court.”

Official figures show that more than 1,000 protesters were arrested in the most recent wave of opposition demonstrations on December 27 during the Shiite mourning rituals of Ashura.

“The other four were arrested before the Ashura incidents. They are also awaiting the verdict of the appeals court,” Dolatabadi said.

The authorities in Iran arrested an estimated 4,000 people including journalists and reformist politicians in a massive crackdown in the weeks following the presidential election.

Stiff jail terms have been handed down to several people convicted of taking part in the unrest, although some have been released on bail pending possible appeals.

According to officials, 36 people were killed during the riots last June, but the opposition puts the toll at 72. The Ashura unrest a month ago resulted in eight deaths and hundreds more people wounded across Iran.

The latest hangings bring to at least 12 the number of people executed in Iran so far in 2010, according to an AFP count based on news reports. Last year at least 270 people were hanged.

Tehran says the death penalty is necessary to maintain public security and that sentences are carried out only after exhaustive judicial proceedings.

Murder, rape, armed robbery, drug trafficking and adultery are all punishable by death in the Islamic republic.

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