Iran executes two men for killing paramilitary force member during protests
Two men have been executed in Iran after being convicted of killing a member of the paramilitary Basij force during protests last year. Mohammad Mehdi Karami and Mohammad Hosseini were hanged in the early hours of Saturday, days after the country’s Supreme Court confirmed their sentences for “corruption on Earth,” according to the official news outlet of the judiciary. The men were accused of killing Ruhollah Ajamian during large protests in the city of Karaj near Tehran on November 3.
Videos circulated on social media on the day of the incident showed a main highway closed off by crowds and Ajamian, wearing a Basij uniform, lying motionless on the ground. According to the judiciary, 16 people were arrested in connection with Ajamian’s death, with Karami and Hosseini being the main suspects. The judiciary released clips from their court sessions, in which Karami said he struck Ajamian with a rock and Hosseini told a judge he stabbed him with a knife several times. The judiciary also released additional clips it said showed the two men committing the crime, and showed an image of Hosseini with knives that he allegedly owned.
Saturday’s hangings bring the total number of executions over the protests to four. The latest executions have sparked allegations that the confessions of Karami and Hosseini were forced. In an audio clip circulating online, a man claiming to be Karami’s father said his son was innocent. The judiciary rejected these claims and released clips of interviews with supposed witnesses to Ajamian’s killing. The Supreme Court has accepted appeals by three others in this case, citing incomplete investigations, but it upheld the execution sentences of several others in different cases. Amnesty International has warned that dozens of people could be at risk of execution.
The protests in Iran began in mid-September after the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old who was arrested by morality police in Tehran for allegedly not adhering to a mandatory dress code for women. The protests quickly escalated, with people taking to the streets to demonstrate against a range of issues including economic inequality and government corruption. According to foreign-based human rights organizations, more than 500 people have been killed during the unrest. In December, two men, Mohsen Shekari and Majidreza Rahnavard, were executed in cases linked to the protests. Rahnavard was hanged publicly from a construction crane in Mashhad. They were convicted of moharebeh, or “waging war against God.”
The use of the death penalty in Iran has long been a controversial issue, with human rights groups condemning the country for its high number of executions. According to Amnesty International, Iran is second only to China in the number of executions carried out each year. The organization has called on the Iranian government to establish an official moratorium on the death penalty and to work towards abolishing it completely.
The recent executions of Karami and Hosseini have sparked outrage and condemnation from human rights groups and international organizations. In a statement, Amnesty International said the men were “denied fair trials” and called for an “immediate halt” to their execution. The United Nations has also expressed concern over the use of the death penalty in Iran, and has called on the government to ensure that all trials meet international standards of fairness.
Despite the criticism, the Iranian government has defended its use of the death penalty, saying it is an effective deterrent against crime. In a recent statement, the judiciary argued that the death penalty is “supported by the majority of the people” and said it is used only in “exceptional cases.”