Iran lifts death penalty on controversial spiritual leader

Iran lifts death penalty on controversial spiritual leader
Mohammed Ali Taheri, a researcher and proponent of alternative medicine, has had his death sentence commuted.
1 min read
21 December, 2015
File Photo: Iran is one of the leading executioners in the world [Getty]

Iran's Supreme Court annulled the death penalty for spiritual leader Mohammed Ali Taheri on Monday and referred his case back to the court that handed down the sentence.

"I went to court today and was told that the verdict has been cancelled," said his lawyer, Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabayi said, quoted by Fars news agency.

The Revolutionary Court "has to examine the case again and issue a new verdict".

Taheri, who has no religious training, founded a spiritual movement and practised alternative medicine, following what he presented as spiritual messages.

After a brief arrest in 2010, he was rearrested in May 2011 and held in solitary confinement.

He was sentenced to death in June for "insulting Islamic sanctities" and "corruption on earth".

In August, the United Nation's High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Raad Al Hussein, called for his immediate release.

In a message posted on Facebook in the same month, Alizadeh said his client "does not deny any of the principles of Shia Islam and firmly believes in them and observes them".

Taheri apologised to the Revolutionary Court and said he was prepared to recant his beliefs if the authorities believed his thoughts deviated from Islam's teaching.