Mahsa Amini's lawyer appears in Iranian court over 'propaganda' charges

Saleh Nikhbat was accused in August of denying official claims his client's death was an accident

An activist holds a poster depicting Mahsa Amini during a protest outside the Lebanese National Museum in Beirut. EPA
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A lawyer for the family of Mahsa Amini, whose death sparked Iran's largest protest movement, appeared in court on Monday charged with "propaganda" against the regime.

Saleh Nikhbat appeared at a revolutionary court for his second hearing over the charges, brought against him in August ahead of the first anniversary of Ms Amini's death.

Speaking to Radio Farda, Mr Nikhbat said the court session was brief as the judge requested written answers before the hearing.

The court focused on his denial of a forensic report, he added, which claimed Ms Amini died of a medical issue, rather than as a result of a beating in morality police custody.

Her family, who were previously placed under house arrest and summoned by authorities, have publicly denied official claims Ms Amini died of a heart attack, saying she was beaten to death after her arrest in Tehran.

Authorities say Mr Nikhbat "spread propaganda" about the case by speaking to local and foreign media.

Ms Amini's death sparked nationwide protests which posed the biggest threat to Tehran since the Islamic Republic was founded in 1979.

More than 500 people were killed and 18,000 imprisoned in a crackdown on demonstrators, according to rights groups, while Tehran has also executed several protesters accused of killing security officers.

Iran handed down the death sentence to several protesters after trials criticised by rights groups and international officials as "sham" proceedings.

The judiciary has a long history of convicting dual nationals and government dissidents on vague charges with little evidence.

Mohammed Mehdi Karami, who was executed in January, was reportedly only given 15 minutes to defend himself in court.

His father, mother and brother were arrested in August, among dozens of other bereaved relatives to be taken into custody and prevented from visiting loved ones' graves.

Ms Amini's father was briefly detained on the first anniversary of her death, when protests briefly re-ignited in various cities.

Kurdish areas and the south-eastern city of Zahedan have continued to strike and protest since Ms Amini's death, despite repressive measures by security forces.

On Friday, more than 20 people were injured during protests in Zahedan, marking the first anniversary of a bloody crackdown which killed at least 66 people.

Updated: October 02, 2023, 5:44 PM