Iran hangs Sufi after 'unfair' trial over killing of 3 policemen

Iran hangs Sufi after 'unfair' trial over killing of 3 policemen
2 min read
18 June, 2018
Rights groups criticised the execution and death penalty, noting Iran's courts declined to hear eyewitnesses that could have exonerated Mohammad Salas.
Mohammad Salas in court in Iran [Twitter]

Iran has executed a Sufi man who allegedly rammed a bus into police officers as they tried to disperse a rally, killing three of them. 

The official website of the judiciary said Mohammad Salas was hanged early Monday. Salas had testified in March that he was trying to get away from the clashes at the time. 

The sole piece of evidence used to convict Salas was a forced confession after he was beaten by officers. He has then retracted his confession and said new evidence exonorated him. 

Salas had said he awoke disoriented and drowsy while in custody to find an investigator beside him. He has limited literacy and was unable to read the statement confessing to the murders, Amnesty International reported. 

The interrogation occurred without a lawyer present. 

At the final trial session on 18 March 2018, Salas said he had been tortured while in custody. He said that several witnesses present confirmed he was already in jail when the three policemen were struck and killed. 

Several eyewitneses were reportedly ready to give eyewitness testimonies supporting Salas' account. They said that a young man was the person behind the wheel of the bus, not 51-year-old Salas. 

"In their haste to do justice, the authorities have trampled all over this man's rights," said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at ‎Amnesty International, in a release. 

The clashes broke out in February when supporters of Sufi leader Nourali Tabandeh rallied outside his home, fearing his possible arrest.

Security forces fired live ammunition, water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd. The three officers - Reza Emami, Mohammad Ali Bayrami and Reza Moradi Alamdar - were killed around 6:30 pm. Salas was arrested between 2:30 and 4:30 pm, according to witnesses. 

Iran's clerically overseen government frowns on Sufism, the mystical strain of Islam. Many conservatives view it as a deviation from the faith.

Rights groups say Iran is one of the world's leading executioners, and have repeatedly called on it to abolish the death penalty.

Agencies contributed to this report. 

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