Iran lawyer arrested after saying client wrongly executed

Iran lawyer arrested after saying client wrongly executed
2 min read
20 June, 2018
Zeinab Taheri was detained after saying her Sufi client Mohammad Salas had been wrongly hanged on Monday.
Zeinab Taheri represented Mohammad Salas during his murder trial [Getty]
An Iranian defence lawyer for a Sufi man who was executed earlier this week over the deaths of three policemen has been arrested after claiming his innocence.

Zeinab Taheri was taken into custody after an arrest warrant was issued against her for making "false statements" and because of "her lies propogated online claiming (the defendant) was not guilty," said the semi-official Fars news agency on Wednesday. 

She was reportedly detained on Tuesday, just one day after Mohammad Salas was hanged.

"The female lawyer who recently claimed to be the defendant's lawyer and who has gone hoarse saying he is innocent was basically not this person's lawyer," Tehran's chief justice Gholamhossein Esmaili said, according to Fars.

Salas was hanged earlier this week for allegedly driving a bus into a group of police officers during February clashes between supporters of Sufi leader Nourali Tabandeh and police, who fired live ammunition, water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd. 

The sole piece of evidence used to convict Salas was a forced confession after he was beaten by officers. He later 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 had limited literacy and was unable to read the statement confessing to the murders, Amnesty International reported. 

The interrogation occurred without a lawyer present. 

Several eyewitneses were also reportedly ready to give testimonies supporting Salas' account. They said that a young man was the person behind the wheel of the bus.

Salas belonged to the minority Sufi sect, a mystic branch of Islam tolerated in Iran but perceived as a "deviation" by many conservative members of the country's majority Shia community. 

Taheri's name appears in a statement released on Monday by Human Rights Watch, which presents her as having been Salas's lawyer. 

Taheri also represented Iranian scholar Ahmadreza Djalili, sentenced to death for spying for Israel in a trial Amnesty called a "secret and hasty procedure that did not allow arguments from the defence". 

On the day of Salas's execution, posts from a Twitter account bearing Taheri's name said it would "reveal for public opinion all possible" evidence of his innocence - later stating it would not do so over requests from the family.

The same account posted a tweet in favour of Salas's "innocence" on Wednesday, after Taheri had been reportedly arrested.

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