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Violent Aftermath: The 2009 Election and Suppression of Dissent in Iran

5.6       Detainees are Sentenced

On August 28, Ahmadinejad recommended Islamic mercy for most of the demonstrators standing trial, citing his belief that they were deceived into taking part in the unrest. However, in his opinion, the leaders of the opposition should be dealt with more seriously.

Serious confrontation has to be against the leaders and key elements, against those who organized and provoked [protests] and carried out the enemies’ plans … They have to be dealt with seriously … Don’t give immunity and protection to the main elements, and punish the deceived and second-hand element.[648]

On October 5, the first sentence was announced. Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani was sentenced to death after confessing to plotting to carry out acts of terrorism and sabotage on behalf of the Royalist Society. He had been arrested in February 2009 before performing any of the alleged actions, and he had confessed during the first mass show trial.[649] His confession, together with that of Arash Rahmanipour, had also been televised.[650] This first sentence was quickly followed by two more death sentences.[651] Twenty-year-old Arash Rahmanpour confessed to the same crimes as Ali Zamani. Naser Abdolhosseini was convicted of being a member of the MEK.[652]

On October 30, the head of Tehran’s Justice Ministry, explained:

To compare these three’s sentences with other post-election arrestees’ sentences is being unfair to those who have a good relationship with the regime and had other intentions [than overthrow] … A youth may participate in the gatherings because of a specific viewpoint and his love for the regime, but he is not an anti-revolutionary and should not be placed in the same category as munafiqin [MEK] and anti-revolutionaries. Such [comparison] is not reasonable … The aforementioned three would have carried out their damaging work against the holy Islamic Republic regime even if the post-election incidents had not happened.[653]

On October 17, three political activists, Saeed Hajjarian, Shahab Tabatabai, and Hedayat Aghai were each sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.[654] The next day, Masoud Bastani, whose pregnant wife had by than been released, was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment. On October 20, Iranian-American scholar, Kian Tajbakhsh, received a lengthy fifteen-year prison sentence. In Evin Prison, Tajbakhsh had been moved from solitary confinement to “the villa,” a more comfortable part of the prison complex.[655]

Former Vice President Abtahi, also housed in “the villa” and who appeared at the first mass show trial, was taken to court on November 4 for an individual trial session. There, he was charged with gathering and conspiring with the aim of disrupting the national security, propaganda activity against the Islamic Republic, insulting the president, disrupting the public order through participation in the illegal gathering of June 15, and keeping classified documents. On November 21, he was accompanied by five officers to his home where they searched the premises and then returned him to court.[656] He was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment and bail was set at 700 million Tomans [US$700,000]. Abtahi and his lawyer Saleh Nikbakht, plan to appeal the verdict.[657] 

The spokesperson for the revolutionary court in Tehran issued a statement on November 17, allegedly to “prevent the spreading of false and baseless rumors.”

When the prosecution office received the case of each of the accused, issued an order of criminality and indictment and sent it to various branches of the court, the proceeding court convened to process the case with the presence of the accused and his defense attorney and the prosecutor, investigated the related crimes, and after hearing the defense by the accused and his attorney, issued a verdict. So far 89 of the accused have been tried and, based on their charges, five who were accused of being members of and having affiliations with terroristic, rebellious and anti-revolutionary groups have been sentenced to execution, and 81 others have been sentenced to imprisonment ranging from 6 months to 15 years.

Furthermore, the imprisonment order issued for three individuals who were sentenced has been suspended, and three other accused were exonerated from charges.[658]

The rate of announced sentences increased rapidly in November. While most defendants received only prison time, others were sentenced to lashings and banishment as well. Kambiz Norouzi, a member of the Journalist Union and media activist who was arrested in front of the Qoba Mosque on June 28, was convicted of propaganda against the regime because of his attendance at a June 15 demonstration, and sentenced to two years and 76 lashes.[659] Ahmad Zeidabadi, the secretary general of Tahkim-e Vahdat, was taken to court on November 23 and sentenced to six years in prison plus five years of exile in Gonabad, a city in a northwest province of Iran. He was also banned from participating in civil and social activities for the rest of his life.[660]

By December, Hamed Rouhinejad,[661] Reza Khademi,[662] and Ayoub Porkar, accused of membership in the MEK and Royalist Society, were sentenced to death by the 26 Branch of the Revolutionary Court. This brought the total number of death sentences to six.[663] Under Iranian law, these sentences may be appealed.[664]

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Sexual Violence, Death Penalty, Political Killings, Executions, Torture, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, Punishment, Personal Liberty, Arbitrary Detention, Travel Restrictions, Due Process, Right to an Attorney, Illegal Search and Seizure, Free Speech, Right to Protest, Protests, Political Freedom, Equality Before the Law, Discrimination, Reports