TEHRAN: Two men have been hanged in Iran after being convicted of killing a member of the paramilitary Basij force during protests to mark the 40th day since the death of a protester Hadis Najafi last year.
Mohammad Mehdi Karami and Mohammad Hosseini were executed in the early hours of Saturday, days after the country’s Supreme Court confirmed their sentences for “corruption on Earth”, according to the official news outlet of the judiciary.
Karami and Hosseini were accused of killing Ruhollah Ajamian on November 3 when large protests took place in the city of Karaj near Tehran.
Videos circulating on social media on the day showed a main highway closed off by crowds and Ajamian, wearing a Basij uniform, lying motionless on the ground.
According to the judiciary, 16 people were arrested in connection with his death, while Karami and Hosseini were the main suspects.
The judiciary showed clips from their court sessions, where Karami said he struck Ajamian with a rock and Hosseini told a judge he stabbed him with a knife several times. The judiciary outlet also released clips that it said showed the two men during the act, and showed an image of Hosseini who was sitting with his hands tied behind his back and had several types of knives in front of him that he allegedly owned.
Saturday’s hangings bring the total executions over the protests to four. The latest executions come amid allegations that the confessions were forced.
In an audio clip circulating online, a man, said to be the 22-year-old Karami’s father, said his son was innocent. The judiciary rejected the claims and released clips of interviews with supposed witnesses to Ajamian’s killing.
The judiciary has said the main suspects in the case were arrested just over a week after the incident and indictments were issued after nine days. Court cases were held less than a month later.
The Supreme Court has accepted appeals by three others in this case, citing incomplete investigations but it upheld the execution sentences of several others in different cases, and Amnesty International has warned that dozens could be at risk of execution.
Two men, Mohsen Shekari, 23, and Majidreza Rahnavard, 23, were executed in cases linked with the protests in December, with the latter being hanged publicly from a construction crane in Mashhad. They were convicted for moharebeh or “waging war against God”.
Iran’s protests began in mid-September after the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old who was arrested by morality police in Tehran for allegedly not adhering to a mandatory dress code for women.
Foreign-based human rights organizations say more than 500 people have since been killed during the unrest.
Meanwhile, the number of street demonstrations in Iran has decreased in recent weeks but they have not gone away, defying some of the early predictions that they would fade, and yet also failing to shake the foundations of the Islamic republic.
If anything, the protest movement has proven to be resilient. It has now been more than 100 days since the protests erupted across Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by morality police in September for alleged non-compliance with a mandatory dress code for women.
A high death toll foreign-based human rights organizations say more than 500 people have been killed during the unrest has not stopped the ebb and flow of the protest movement. Neither has a tough government crackdown, and the execution of at least two people in cases related to the protests, with the potential for more to come. (Int’l Monitoring Desk)