New York Times: At least five protesters arrested in Iran last week during antigovernment demonstrations will be tried on charges of warring against God, which carries an automatic death sentence if they are found guilty, Iran’s judiciary said Thursday. The New York Times
By NAZILA FATHI
At least five protesters arrested in Iran last week during antigovernment demonstrations will be tried on charges of warring against God, which carries an automatic death sentence if they are found guilty, Iran’s judiciary said Thursday.
The severity of the charge, coming so soon after the defendants were arrested, suggests that the Islamic theocracy is stepping up its efforts to intimidate protesters to end the demonstrations that began over the disputed election results in June and have erupted periodically ever since despite a brutal crackdown.
In a statement carried by IRNA, Iran’s official news agency, the judiciary said the five would soon be tried by the Revolutionary Court on charges of Moharebeh, meaning waging war against God. The statement did not disclose their names, when they would be tried or details of accusations against them.
Tehran’s prosecutor general, Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, said Sunday that the judiciary would deal with detainees arrested during the most recent protests “very severely,” the news agency ISNA reported.
Authorities have invoked the Moharebeh charge against other detainees but some courts have dismissed it, said Nasrin Sotoodeh, a lawyer in Tehran who has represented several detainees.
“What is very surprising is how the court has come up with the indictment in 10 days since the arrest of the detainees,” she said in a telephone interview.
“How was the indictment put together so quickly? When did the defendants hire or meet with their lawyer? When did the lawyer read the case?” she asked. “No sane mind can believe that all this was possible in 10 days.”
In another sign of an intensified crackdown on dissidents, a Kurdish activist, Fasih Yasamani, 28, was executed early Wednesday by hanging at the Khoy prison in western Iran, on charges of membership in a Kurdish separatist group, according to the Human Rights Activists News Agency. If true, he was the second Kurdish activist executed in Iran in recent months. At least 17 other activists are on death row.
Authorities have also added new charges against seven Bahai leaders detained since 2008, under which they could face execution, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reported Thursday. Twelve other Bahais were detained during the mass arrests that began after the antigovernment demonstration on Dec. 27, the statement said.
Authorities have confirmed the deaths of eight protesters in Tehran during the demonstration.
A representative of the supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, characterized protesters during a speech at a pro-government rally last week as “followers of the path of Satan.”