Friday, 9 October 2009

Times: Iran 'hands down first death sentence for election protests'

The first death sentence for participation in Iran’s post election protests was handed down on Monday, an Iranian reformist website has reported.

Mowcamp, one of the many Farsi-language sites relied on by opposition supporters to spread news, reported that the accused, Mohammed Reza Ali-Zamani, had been informed of the verdict on Monday after the conclusion of his trial. The website gave no source for its report, which could not be independently verified.

The website reported that Mr Ali-Zamani “was transferred on Monday from Evin prison ward 209 to Revolutionary Court number 15, presided over by Justice Salabati and the execution verdict was communicated to him.” Evin is the name of Tehran’s most infamous prison, where regime opponents have been imprisoned since the reign of the Shah.

If confirmed, it would be the first death sentence yet in the trials of more than 100 opposition supporters for allegedly fomenting street violence following President Ahmadinejad’s disputed election victory in June.

Opposition supporters and international and local human rights groups have denounced the proceedings as “show trials” designed to intimidate the general populace and uproot the moderate opposition supporting his rival, Mir Hossein Mousavi.

His supporters and others opposed to the clerical establishment itself took to the streets crying fraud after official election results abruptly handed President Ahmadinejad victory with more than 60 percent of the vote.

Evidence of official responsibility for the brutal suppression of streets protestors has mounted since June, much of it aired on the internet, including video footage, stills photographs and witness testimony. The opposition claims more than 70 civilians were killed or subsequently died in custody, more than twice the official death toll.

The regime has remained insistent that the protesters themselves were the instigators of the violence, dismissing official involvement in the deaths of such high-profile protestors as Neda Agha Soltan, the university student whose fatal shooting was captured on video and sent around the world.

In August, the semi-official Iranian news agency Mehr, named Mr Ali-Zamini as one of those set to stand trial, accusing of fighting to overthrow the Islamic Republic and belong to a “terrorist” monarchist organisation. Scores of other protesters remain in custody awaiting trial.

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