A Tehran Revolutionary Court, the parallel system that tries political prisoners, handed down its first death sentence for one of the detainees since it began the mobilizations last September. There are more than 15,000 arrested and it is feared that hundreds will be sentenced to hang
A police motorcycle burns during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being detained by the “morality police” of the Islamic Republic, in Tehran, Iran, on September 19, 2022.
A revolutionary court in Tehran has sentenced to death this Sunday a man arrested for burning down a government building during the wave of protests against the death in prison of the young woman Mahsa Aminion September 16, in what is the first sentence of this caliber since the beginning of the demonstrations.
The official IRNA news agency, citing that it does not identify the convicted person, indicates that the sentence has been handed down in relation to the charges of “burning down a government building, disturbing public order, gathering and conspiring to commit an offense against national security, and being an enemy of God and corruption on earth”, the latter offense punishable by execution.
The verdict, however, can still be appealed.
In addition, the court has also sentenced five people to between five and ten years in prison for disturbing the public order.< /p>
Over 15,000 Iranians have been detained and several hundred have been killed in nearly two months of protests, according to estimates by the activist news agency Hrana. Demonstrations that began in response to the alleged police killing of Amini have turned into a broad movement against the country's clerical leaders. Authorities have demanded harsh punishments for the protesters, calling them “rioters”, and have tried to blame the unrest on foreign powers.
Some of those detained are released with a fine. Others are tried in criminal court. But political prisoners often face these feared revolutionary courts, a parallel system created to protect the Islamic republic, he told The Washington Post Hadi Enayat, a political sociologist specializing in Iranian law.
Revolutionary courts are notorious for their “egregious due process violations,” said Tara Sepehri Far of Human Rights Watch. The state “uses the trials as one more element to shape its narrative about the protests.”
Like in the past, human rights groups expect them to be Fake trials, based on fabricated evidence and confessions made under duress or torture. The detainees have been accused of committing acts of violence and murdering Iranian security forces with little or no evidence, they say.
Iranian police fired on ongoing protests near Tehran
Iran is one of the world's leading executioners. At least 314 people were executed in 2021, according to Amnesty International,although the real figure is probably higher. Death sentences handed down for political prisoners are sometimes commuted or never carried out, though the threat remains.
In dialogue with The Washington Post , Hossein Raisi, a former lawyer in Iran and now a professor of human rights at Carleton University in Ottawa, explained that Iran's legal system is based on a fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic law< /b> .
“The Iranian judicial system is the judicial system of the supreme leader,” he said, referring to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, head of Iran's theocratic government.
The first Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, created the revolutionary courts as a stopgap system to purge opponents after he toppled the country's ruler, the shah, in 1979. They have since become a key element of the Islamic republic, allowing regime loyalists to control the levers of Justice. The Revolutionary Courts work closely with the intelligence wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, the paramount leader's parallel security force.
Revolutionary courts rely on a single judge, rather than the panel of judges used in criminal courts. Judges are usually clergy or have been trained at a state university. Political prisoners have limited or no access to their lawyers and cannot see the alleged evidence against them.
The Ministry of Intelligence and the intelligence wing of the IRGC are often involved in interrogations and collecting evidence, in violation of Iranian law, Raisi said. But in times of unrest, he said, the authorities drop any pretense of following criminal procedure.