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Iran

Iran's top court orders retrial of third death row inmate sentenced over protests

Iran has been rocked by demonstrations since the 16 September death in custody of Mahsa Amini.

IRAN’S TOP COURT has ordered the retrial of a third death row inmate sentenced over the nationwide protests that started more than 100 days ago.

The Islamic republic has been rocked by demonstrations since the 16 September death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd, after her arrest in Tehran for an alleged breach of the country’s strict dress code for women.

Iranian officials say hundreds of people have been killed in the unrest, including members of the security forces, and thousands have been arrested.

In an updated death toll issued on Tuesday, Oslo-based group group Iran Human Rights (IHR) said 476 protesters have been killed so far.

Foreign-based rights groups had reported Sahand Nourmohammad-Zadeh was sentenced to death for tearing down highway railings and setting fire to rubbish bins and tyres.

Today, the judiciary’s Mizan Online news website said the 26-year-old had been granted a retrial, without specifying the original verdict.

“The appeal against the decision issued by a Tehran Revolutionary Court was upheld in the Supreme Court,” a statement noted, adding that Nourmohammad-Zadeh’s case is referred to another court to be tried again.

His lawyer, Hamed Ahmadi, told the ILNA news agency on 21 December that Nourmohammad-Zadeh had been sentenced to death after being convicted of “moharebeh”, which means “enmity against God”.

“I sincerely hope that the Supreme Court cancels my client’s death sentence,” the lawyer added, citing new evidence in the case.

Nourmohammad-Zadeh is the third person reportedly on death row to be allowed a retrial after Kurdish rapper Saman Seydi, also known as Saman Yasin, and Mahan Sadrat.

Clashes in Kurdish region

Norway-based human rights group Hengaw reported deadly clashes today in Javanroud, a city in Iran’s Kurdish-populated west, where residents marked the end of a 40-day mourning period for slain protesters.

Security forces fired live ammunition and tear gas, killing at least one person and wounding several others at a local cemetery, Hengaw said, in a report that could not be independently verified.

Activists have called on social media for gatherings in Tehran and other cities across Iran to protest the worsening economic situation.

The sanctions-hit country replaced on Thursday its central bank chief, state media said, as the rial shed nearly a third of its value on the parallel market in the past two months and inflation skyrocketed.

Yesterday, hundreds took to the streets of Zahedan, which has seen weekly protests since the security forces killed more than 90 people in the city on September 30, in what has been dubbed “Bloody Friday”.

Footage shared by protest monitor 1500tasvir and verified by AFP shows the crowd in the Sistan-Baluchistan provincial capital chanting “Death to the dictator”, taking aim at Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Sistan-Baluchistan, an impoverished province on Iran’s border with Afghanistan and Pakistan, had been the site of often deadly violence even before protests over Amini’s death erupted nationwide.

At least 14,000 people have been arrested since the nationwide unrest began, the United Nations said last month.

US-based Human Rights Activists News Agency has put the figure at at least 19,000.

Earlier this month, Iran executed two people in connection with the protests.

Majidreza Rahnavard, 23, was hanged in public on 12 December after being sentenced to death by a court in the city of Mashhad for killing two members of the security forces with a knife.

Four days earlier, Mohsen Shekari, also 23, was executed for wounding a member of the security forces.

The judiciary has said nine others have been sentenced to death, while IHR said this week dozens of protesters face charges that carry potential capital punishment.

© – AFP 2022