Iran halts execution of trio convicted over November protests

It said evidence had been found on their phones of setting alight banks, buses and public buildings

People stop their cars on a road in Tehran, Iran, on November 16, 2019, in protest against fuel price rises. Wana
People stop their cars on a road in Tehran, Iran, on November 16, 2019, in protest against fuel price rises. Wana

Iran has halted the execution of three people linked to deadly November protests sparked by a surge in petrol prices, one of the accused's lawyers said on Sunday.

"We conveyed a request (for a retrial) to the supreme court and they have accepted it. We hope the verdict will be overturned," Babak Paknia said.

Iran's judiciary said last week that a court had upheld the death sentence for the three.

It said evidence had been found on their phones of setting alight banks, buses and public buildings in November.

The three are Amirhossein Moradi, 26, working at a cellphone retailer, Said Tamjidi, a 28-year-old student, and Mohammad Rajabi, also 26.

"We are very hopeful that the verdicts will be overturned... considering that one of the judges at the supreme court had opposed the verdicts before," the four lawyers representing the accused said, according to state news agency Irna.

Calls have grown on social media platforms using the hashtag "DontExecute" for a halt to the executions since the verdict was announced.

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said at the time that the verdict could still change over "extraordinary proceedings," pointing to a legal clause that could trigger a retrial if deemed necessary by the chief justice.

The demonstrations erupted on November 15 after authorities more than doubled fuel prices overnight, exacerbating economic hardship in the sanctions-hit country.

They rocked a handful of cities before spreading to at least 100 urban centres across the Islamic republic.

Petrol pumps were torched, police stations attacked and shops looted, before security forces stepped in amid a near-total internet ban.

A senior Iranian legislator said in June that 230 were killed and thousands injured during the protests.

Authorities had for months refused to provide casualty figures, rejecting tolls given by foreign media and human rights groups as "lies".

London-based rights group Amnesty International has put the number of deaths at 304, and a group of independent UN rights experts said in December that 400 including at least 12 children could have been killed, based on unconfirmed reports.

The United States has claimed that more than 1,000 were killed in the violence.

Updated: July 20, 2020 01:34 PM

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