Iran Denies Report That Doctor's Death Sentence Was Revoked

By RFE/RL's Radio Farda

Iran's judiciary has denied a report that a decision has been made to annul the death sentence of Iranian doctor Hamid Qarahasanlou, who was sentenced to death along with four other defendants for allegedly having a role in the murder of a security officer.

The Tehran-based Etemad Newspaper reported on December 21 that the death sentence was "canceled" after "a prominent political figure" requested the move from "high officials of the country." It did not name the political figure but said that, in a conversation with Etemad, he confirmed writing a letter making the request and receiving a positive response in the matter.

In political literature inside the Islamic republic, Ali Khamenei is indirectly mentioned as "high officials."

However, the press office of the Iranian judiciary later said such a letter is irrelevant to the proceedings and that the final verdict of the court "has not yet been issued."

It had been previously reported that Qarahasanlou's death sentence was officially handed to him in the hospital while he was undergoing surgery.

Authorities say 16 protesters, including Qarahasanlou, are responsible for the death of a member of the Basij paramilitary unit during a demonstration amid nationwide unrest over the death of a young woman, Mahsa Amini, while in police custody in September.

All deny the charges, saying they were being targeted for participating in the protests.

Four others are still at risk of execution in the case, while another 11 people, including three minors, have been given lengthy jail terms.

Doctors from all over the world have supported Qarahasanlou, who is a radiologist, saying he is a good and committed doctor and his death sentence should be annulled.

Qarahasanlu's brother said in an interview with RFERL’s Radio Farda that officers had severely tortured his sibling and sister-in-law.

Human rights organizations have condemned the death sentences for protesters in Iran after what they have termed hastily convened sham trials.

Since the death of Amini while she was being detained for allegedly wearing a head scarf improperly, Iranians have flooded streets across the country to protest a lack of rights, with women and schoolgirls making unprecedented shows of support in the biggest threat to the Islamic government since the 1979 revolution.

Last month, 227 lawmakers from the 290-seat parliament led by hard-liners urged the judiciary to approve death sentences for some protesters arrested amid the recent wave of demonstrations.

Two public executions have already taken place, according to authorities, and rights groups say many others have been handed death sentences, while at least two dozen others face charges that could carry the death penalty.

The activist HRANA news agency said that, as of December 13, at least 431 protesters had been killed during the unrest, including 68 minors, as security forces try to stifle widespread dissent.

The Oslo-based Iran Human Rights Organization says the number of executions in Iran exceeds 500 this year.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda