Second Iranian detainee executed for alleged protest crime
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran on Monday executed a second prisoner detained and sentenced amid nationwide protests challenging the country’s theocracy, airing footage on state television that it says shows him stabbing at killed two members of the security forces and fled.
The public hanging of Majidreza Rahnavard, less than a month after he allegedly carried out the fatal stabbings – supposedly angry at security forces killing protesters – shows how quickly Iran is now carrying out sentences death sentences against those detained during the protests the government hopes to put down.
Activists warn that at least a dozen people have already been sentenced to death in closed hearings. At least 488 people have been killed since the protests began in mid-September, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that monitors the protests. Another 18,200 people were arrested by the authorities.
Iran’s Mizan news agency, under the country’s judicial authority, claimed that Rahnavard stabbed two members of the security forces to death on November 17 in the city of Mashhad and injured four others. The agency said the execution took place Monday morning, in public, in Mashhad.
Footage shown on state television showed a man chasing another around a street corner, then standing over him and stabbing him after he fell into a parked motorcycle. Another showed the same man stabbing another immediately afterwards. The attacker, who state television said was Rahnavard, then fled.
The Mizan report identified the dead as Basij “students”, paramilitary volunteers under Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. The Basij (ba-SEEJ’) deployed in major cities, attacking and detaining protesters, who in many cases fought back.
A heavily edited state television report aired after Rahnavard’s execution showed clips of him in the courtroom. In the video, he says he came to hate the Basijis after seeing video clips on social media of the forces beating and killing protesters.
The Mizan Report accused Rahnavard of trying to flee to a foreign country when he was arrested.
Mashhad, a Shiite holy city, is located about 740 kilometers (460 miles) east of the Iranian capital, Tehran. Activists say he has seen strikes, closed shops and protests amid the unrest that began after the September 16 death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who had been detained by police Iranian customs.
Mizan said Rahnavard was sentenced by the Revolutionary Court in Mashhad. The courts have been internationally criticized for not allowing those on trial to choose their own lawyers or even see the evidence against them.
Rahnavard had been convicted of “moharebeh”, a Farsi word meaning “waging war against God”. This charge was made against others in the decades following the 1979 Islamic Revolution and carries the death penalty.
From Brussels, EU foreign ministers expressed dismay at the latest execution. The bloc is to approve a new round of sanctions against Iran on Monday for its crackdown on protesters, as well as supplying drones to Russia for use in its war against Ukraine, the bloc’s diplomacy chief said. .
EU foreign policy chief Josp Borrell said he had spoken to Iran’s foreign minister about Tehran’s response to the protests and the latest execution and that it was “not an easy conversation “.
“We are going to approve a very, very tough set of sanctions,” Borrell told reporters as he arrived to chair the ministerial meeting in Brussels. Finland’s foreign minister said he also called his Iranian counterpart.
Iran is one of the best executioners in the world and usually executes prisoners by hanging. He executed the first prisoner detained during protests last Thursday.
Amnesty International said it had obtained a document signed by a senior Iranian police official calling for the execution of a prisoner to be ‘completed’ as soon as possible ‘and for his death sentence to be carried out in public as ‘a gesture comforting towards the security forces.’
Amid the unrest, Iran is also being hit by an economic crisis which has seen the national currency, the rial, fall to new lows against the US dollar.
Associated Press writer Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed to this report.