Iranian karateka only given '15 minutes' to plead case before execution in Mahsa Amini protests trial

Iranian karateka only given '15 minutes' to plead case before execution in Mahsa Amini protests trial
Mohammad Mehdi Karami, a 22-year-old karate champion, was charged with 'war against God' - then executed - following his trial for the murder of a Basij militiaman in November last year.
2 min read
19 January, 2023
Demonstrators in France protested against the execution of Mohammad Mehdi Karami and Seyed Mohammad Hosseini [Jean-Phillippe Ksiaek/ AFP via Getty]

The Iranian karateka Mohammad Mehdi Karami, who was executed on 7 January, was reportedly given only 15 minutes to appeal his death penalty, sources told BBC Persian.

Iranian authorities executed the 22-year-old, alongside Seyed Mohammad Hosseini, after he was found guilty of killing a paramilitary fighter during unprecedented nationwide protests triggered by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini.

The alleged killing reportedly took place in the Iranian city of Karaj, west of Tehran, on 3 November.

The militiaman was part of the Basij militia, which is linked to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and has played a key role in crushing the anti-government protests.

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The karate champion and Hosseini were executed just 65 days after their arrest in connection with the killing.

A visibly distressed Karimi, according to the BBC's Persian-language service, pleaded with his father to not inform his mother of the verdict after his trial on 30 November.

Iran has been accused of mistreating detainees, including extracting false confessions through torture.

Amnesty International had campaigned for authorities to spare the lives of the two Iranians, slamming the trial as bearing "no resemblance to a meaningful judicial proceeding".

In Iran, defendants are eligible for legal representation, but dissidents are not allowed to select their own defence lawyers during trials perceived as "sensitive" by authorities.

Karami was provided with a court-appointed lawyer, who was unable to access the defendant's file during the trial, his father said.

Karami was the fourth person linked to anti-government protests to be executed in Iran which erupted in September.

Iranian security forces have brutally suppressed the demonstrations linked to the death of 22-year-old Amini, an Iranian-Kurdish woman, reportedly at the hands of morality police in her detention.

Authorities also executed Alireza Akbari, a former deputy defence minister with British nationality, on Saturday after he was found guilty of espionage, drawing condemnation from the UK government.

At least 18 more Iranians have been sentenced to death in relation to the protests, according to the BBC.

Around 516 demonstrators have been killed and tens of thousands more detained since the break out of the protests.

Iran issues hundreds of death sentences on a variety of charges every year.