Iran jails eight over officer's death during protests

Defendants were convicted of aiding protesters found guilty of the killing last year

Iranians protest in Tehran against the death of Mahsa Amini in September 2022. AP
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Iranian authorities on Wednesday handed down prison sentences to eight people for aiding two men who were executed for the death of a security forces officer duringlast year's protests.

The defendants were accused of helping Mohammed Mehdi Karami and Mohammed Hosseini, both of whom were executed in January after being found guilty of the murder of a member of the Basij paramilitary force, the judiciary's Mizan news agency reported.

Among those jailed were Dr Hamid Gharehasanlou, sentenced to 15 years, and his wife Farzaneh, who received a five-year term.

Two more five-year sentences were handed down, while three defendants were sentenced to 10 years and another was jailed for three years.

They were found guilty of “corruption on Earth” and “committing warfare”, vague charges often levelled against critics of Tehran who are arbitrarily detained, charged with little evidence and unable to select their own legal representation in speedy, closed-door trials.

Tehran has accused protesters of killing members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Basij paramilitary, both of which led the brutal suppression of the protests, leading to the deaths of more than 500 people.

Protesters and supporters of Dr and Ms Gharehasanlou had worried for months that the couple would be executed. In January, the former was sentenced to death, leading to a public outcry which saw the sentence rolled back.

Wednesday's ruling confirmed a prison sentence handed down in May.

In December, more than 3,000 doctors signed a letter calling for the couple's release, saying they had been “brutalised” in front of their daughter during a raid on their home.

The letter, shared by the Iran Human Rights organisation, said they were arrested a day after attending a memorial service for Hadis Najafi, a young woman shot dead by security forces in the city of Karaj.

It described Dr Gharehasanlou as a “compassionate physician” who builds schools in impoverished areas, while Mrs Gharehasanlou was apparently filmed delivering first aid to the Basij officer, identified as Ruhollah Ajamian, in an attempt to save his life.

Relatives said they had only encountered Mr Ajamian while returning home from the vigil.

Mr Karami and Mr Hosseini were executed in January after a revolutionary court found them guilty of murdering Mr Ajamian.

Mr Karami, a karate champion, was given only 15 minutes to plead his innocence in court.

Activists and protesters have said the murder charges were falsified in order to intimidate and silence regime critics.

On Tuesday, authorities arrested the mother, father and brother of Mr Karimi, according to local media reports. His father, who is named Mashallah, remains in custody.

The families of around 500 protesters killed by security forces are increasingly pressured into silence ahead of the first anniversary of the demonstrations, which were sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini.

Ms Amini's grave in her hometown of Saqqez continues to attract hundreds of people, her mother has said on social media.

“You have many valuable guests from each city every day,” she wrote on Instagram in June, with a photo of a young girl at Ms Amini's tombstone.

Authorities have desecrated and attempted to move her grave, her relatives have previously told The National.

Grieving loved ones of passengers killed in the Ukrainian Airlines crash of 2020 have described a similar campaign of intimidation, even preventing families from burying their own dead.

Updated: August 23, 2023, 1:49 PM