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Iranian ayatollahs, lawyers lambast executions of protestors

Iranian ayatollahs, lawyers say executions in Iran are against law and Islamic Sharia
MENA
4 min read
15 December, 2022
"We can't call this Moharebeh if the police deprive people of their rights to protest, and then those people defend their rights," ayatollah Ayyazi said, criticising Iran's Islamic judicial system for accusing protestors of "waging war against God".
A general view of a vigil for protestors in Iran who are being executed or are going to be executed is seen in Duesseldorf, Germany on 14 December 2022. [Getty]

Iran's judiciary has continued the execution of protestors convicted of "Moharebeh" (or "waging war against God"), as many high-ranking clerics lambasted the death penalties and lawyers revealed that the Islamic Revolutionary Courts classified the cases of some protestors as "top secret".

Mohammad Esmaeil Baigee, a lawyer defending Saman Seydi, told local media that the judiciary officials rejected his request to access his client's case before handing in a statement of defence to Iran's Supreme Court. The judiciary officials told Esmaeil Baigee that Seydi's case was classified as top secret.

Branch 15 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court handed down the death sentence to Seydi, a 24-year-old rapper, and convicted him of "Moharebeh", meaning "waging war against God".

According to Esmaeil Baigee, his client did not have access to a lawyer of his choice in the preliminary court and in a video the court used as proof of his conviction, the face of the person who was shooting in the air was not visible. 

"Our only demand is to let us read the case and have ten days to write the statement of defence. All we ask for is not to consider this a top-secret case," Esmaeil Baigee stressed.

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Other reports revealed that the court-appointed lawyers did not defend the protestors in the lower courts and rejected family members' requests to have any information about the cases of their children facing the death penalty.

Mohammad Mehdi Karami is another protestor who received the death sentence in recent days, and his father said that his son's court-appointed attorney did not answer his phone calls.

"We were told we could appeal the court decision, but for a week, I've been calling the lawyer, and he did not even answer my calls… no one answers us …. Every night I'm scared of receiving the news about the execution of my kid," Karami added.

The family members of other protestors sentenced to death also reported that the court-appointed lawyers treated them the way the judiciary officials did.

The mother of Amir Hossein Rahimi, a 15-year-old boy, said that her son's court-appointed lawyer refused to talk with her. Rahimi was arrested in October after he was shot with pellet bullets in the head, neck and abdomen. The shots were not removed from his body yet,  his mother said.

"When finally I found the phone number of the court-appointed lawyer and talked to him, he told me 'I don't know about which case you are talking to me, but probably [for the defence] I had written all was necessary," Rahimi's mother said.

"I told him that I had to know what exactly was his defence in the court, but he answered me: 'I can't explain to you more than this'," she added.  

Meanwhile, several Iranian ayatollahs criticized the judiciary for executing the protestors who faced accusations such as Moharebeh. 

In separate interviews, the high-ranking ayatollahs Mohammad Ali Ayyazi, Morteza Moghtadaei, Mohammad Reza Rahmat, and Mohammad Ali Dastgheib underlined that in Islamic Sharia, the death penalty is not the sentence for all accused of "Moharebeh".

"We can't call this Moharebeh if the police deprive people of their rights to protest, and then those people defend their rights," ayatollah Ayyazi said, criticising Iran's Islamic judicial system for accusing protestors of "waging war against God".

"This way of carrying out executions is equal to spreading fear [in society], and if ordinary people react violently to these actions, the force behind these actions is responsible for creating a context for the violence," Ayyazi added, analysing the protestors' attacks on the security forces from the viewpoint of Islamic Sharia.

Since 8 December, Iran's judiciary hanged two young men arrested during the anti-establishment protests that hit the country since mid-September. Mohsen Shekari was executed in Tehran 75 days after his arrest, and Majidreza Rahnavard's death sentence was carried out in Mashhad 23 days after security forces detained him.

The latest protests sparked in Iran after the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman from the Kurdish city of Saqqaz.

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The New Arab Staff & Agencies