Iran's supreme court grants retrial to protester on death row

Noor Mohammadzadeh is the third person convicted over Iran's mass protests to have his appeal accepted

A fire burns in the street during a protest in Tehran on September 19, three days after the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody. Reuters
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Iran’s top court has accepted a third protester’s appeal against the death sentence and sent the case back for review, the judiciary said on Saturday.

Noor Mohammadzadeh, 25, was arrested on October 4 and sentenced to death two months later for allegedly trying to break a motorway guardrail in Tehran and setting fire to a bin during anti-government demonstrations.

He rejected the accusations, saying he was forced to confess to his guilt, and went on a hunger strike two weeks ago.

Iran has already executed two people involved in mass protests that followed the September 16 death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman, who was arrested in Tehran on charges of breaching the country's strict dress code for women.

“The Supreme Court has accepted the appeal of Sahand Noor Mohammadzadeh, one of the accused in the recent riots. His case has been sent to the same branch of the Revolutionary Court for review,” the judiciary’s Mizan news agency said on Twitter.

Mr Mohammadzadeh's lawyer, Hamed Ahmadi, told the ILNA news agency on December 21 that his client was sentenced to death after being convicted of “moharebeh”, which means “enmity against God”.

Amnesty International has said Iranian authorities are seeking the death penalty for at least 26 others in attempt to intimidate protesters.

Rights group Hengaw said there was more violence on Saturday, with one person killed and eight wounded in clashes between security forces and protesters in Javanrud in Iran's western Kermanshah province.

Hengaw, which reports on Iran's Kurdish regions, posted videos of what it said were confrontations between security forces and protesters who had gathered at a cemetery 40 days after the killing of seven fellow Kurdish protesters.

On Friday, hundreds took to the streets of Zahedan, which has seen weekly protests since the security forces killed more than 90 people in the city on September 30, in what has been dubbed “Bloody Friday”.

Footage shared by protest monitor 1500tasvir and verified by AFP shows the crowd in the Sistan-Baluchestan provincial capital chanting “death to the dictator”, referring to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The impoverished province, on Iran's border with Afghanistan and Pakistan, had been the site of often deadly violence even before protests over Ms Amini's death erupted nationwide.

Another rights group, the US-based Human Rights Activists News Agency, said that, as of Friday, 508 protesters had been killed during unrest, including 69 minors. It said 66 members of the security forces had also been killed.

As many as 19,199 protesters are believed to have been arrested, it said.

Iranian officials have said that up to 300 people, including members of the security forces, have lost their lives in the protests.

Authorities have blamed Iran's foreign enemies and their agents for orchestrating the unrest.

Iran hanged two protesters earlier this month: Mohsen Shekari, 23, who was accused of blocking a main road in September and wounding a member of the paramilitary Basij force with a knife; and Majid Reza Rahnavard, 23, who was accused of stabbing two Basij members to death.

Mr Rahnavard was publicly hanged from a construction crane.

Last week, the Supreme Court accepted the death sentence appeal of rapper Saman Seydi Yasin but confirmed the same sentence against protester Mohammad Qobadloo.

Earlier this month it suspended the death sentence of protester Mahan Sadrat, who had been charged with various alleged offences including stabbing a security officer and setting fire to a motorcycle.

With reporting from agencies

Updated: December 31, 2022, 12:42 PM