UN condemns death sentence for Iranian spiritual leader

UN condemns death sentence for Iranian spiritual leader
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has said the death sentence handed out by Iran to Mohammad Ali Taheri is an "outrage" and has called for his immediate release.
2 min read
06 August, 2015
Hussein said the death penalty violates international law [AFP]

A top UN official has called for the release of Mohammad Ali Taheri, a spiritual leader sentenced to death by the Iranian Revolutionary Court on 1 August for "corruption on earth".

Mohammad Ali Taheri is the founder of a spiritual movement, writer and practitioner of alternative medicine theories used both in Iran and overseas.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in a press statement: "I call on the Iranian authorities to immediately withdraw the charges against Taheri and ensure his unconditional release." 

He said the sentence was an "outrage" and a clear violation of international law, and that the death sentence should not be handed out for the peaceful exercise of freedom of expression, religion or belief.

Hussein said Taheri’s case highlighted concerns about the administration of justice and the use of the death sentence in Iran.

The spirtual leader was convicted on vague charges and allegedly detained in solitary confinement before being given the death penalty.

Iran's use of the death sentence is "problematic", according to the UN official, because it has been handed out for drug offences, to those under 18 when the crime was committed, and according to "broad, ill-defined charges".

Under international law countries that have not abolished the death sentence can only use it in "the most serious crimes", taken to mean those that involve intentional killing, and when there has a been a fair trial according to strict standards.

So far this year over 600 prisoners have been executed by Iran, compared to 753 last year.