Iran – Iran executes first known prisoner arrested during protests

Bloodied flag of Iran at a demonstration – IDIL TOFFOLO / ZUMA PRESS / CONTACTOPHOTO

Iran announced Thursday that it has executed the first prisoner to be officially convicted of an alleged crime stemming from protests that have been staged in the country for weeks following the death in police custody of young Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini.

The prisoner, identified by the United Nations as Mohsen Shekari, was convicted of «intentionally» injuring a security guard with a long knife and blocking a street in the capital, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.

Iranian authorities have rejected the appeal by the prisoner’s lawyer as «neither valid nor justified,» finding him guilty of «war crimes» for blocking the street, threatening with weapons and confronting officers.

Iran’s Supreme Court — which considers that the protester’s actions were an «example of hypocrisy» — approved the sentence on Thursday morning and executed the judgment.

The judges based their decision on alleged statements by witnesses to the incident, who claimed that the people present were very frightened by the presence of the armed demonstrator.

Earlier this week, Iranian authorities reportedly said that five people had been sentenced to death for their involvement in the death of a security officer in the protests.

Justice Department spokesman Masoud Setayeshi explained that for the same crime eleven other people, including three minors, were sentenced to «long terms» of imprisonment, ISNA news agency reported.

The United Nations and the French government have been among the first to react to Shekari’s execution. «We deplore this hanging,» the UN deplored, before warning of its fears about the fate of eleven other protesters sentenced to death in Iran.

«We call for an immediate halt to the executions. The death penalty is incompatible with human rights and irreconcilable with the right to life,» adds the United Nations.

The French government, for its part, has also «strongly» condemned the execution, which «adds to numerous other serious and unacceptable violations of fundamental rights and freedoms committed by the Iranian authorities.»

«France reaffirms its commitment to the freedom to demonstrate peacefully and strongly condemns the repression exercised against Iranian demonstrators. Their aspirations for more freedom and respect for their rights are legitimate and must be listened to,» according to the French Foreign Ministry.