Iran Charges 11 Over Death Of Basij Paramilitary Member In Karaj

An Iranian judiciary official said on November 12 that 11 people, including a woman, have been charged over the death of a member of the Basij paramilitary force during a ceremony last week in honor of a slain protester.

The incident happened on November 3 in Karaj, the capital of Alborz Province, when mourners were paying tribute to Hadis Najafi at a cemetery to mark 40 days after she was killed in the city amid nationwide protests triggered by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini.

The judiciary chief of Alborz Province, Hossein Fazeli Harikandi, identified the Basij member as Ruhollah Ajamian and said that he was killed by “rioters.”

"Rioters attacked this security officer, who was unarmed, stripped him naked, stabbed him with knives, beat him with brass knuckles, stones, and kicks, and then dragged his naked and half-dead body on the asphalt street and between cars in a horrific manner," Harikandi said.

The indictments followed an investigation launched after images posted on social media showed "a group of rioters assaulting and killing" Ajamian, the judiciary's Mizan news site quoted him as saying.

He said some face charges of "corruption on Earth," which is punishable by death.

They are also accused of serious disturbance of public order leading to murder, gathering with the intention to commit crimes against the country's security, and propaganda against the state, he said.

Amini died on September 16 following her arrest by Tehran’s morality police for allegedly not complying with hijab regulations.

Since her death, Iranians have flooded streets across the country in protest, with women and even schoolgirls making unprecedented shows of support in the biggest threat to the Islamic government since the 1979 revolution.

The government has blamed Western governments for the unrest and has responded to the protests with a bloody crackdown that human rights groups say has left more than 300 dead and hundreds more injured. Several member of the security forces have been reportedly also killed. Thousands more have been arrested, including many protesters, as well as journalists, lawyers, activists, and others, amid concerns about the charges against them.

On November 12, UN rights experts urged Iranian authorities to stop indicting people with charges punishable by death for participation, or alleged participation, in peaceful demonstrations.

“With the continuous repression of protests, many more indictments on charges carrying the death penalty and death sentences might soon be issued, and we fear that women and girls, who have been at the forefront of protests, and especially women human rights defenders, who have been arrested and jailed for demanding the end of systemic and systematic discriminatory laws, policies and practices might be particularly targeted”, the experts said in a statement.

“We urge Iranian authorities to stop using the death penalty as a tool to squash protests and reiterate our call to immediately release all protesters who have been arbitrarily deprived of their liberty for the sole reason of exercising their legitimate rights to freedom of opinion and expression, association and peaceful assembly and for their actions to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms through peaceful means.”

With reporting by AFP