Group Says Court Review Cuts Sentences For Those Convicted In Iranian Militia Member Killing

An Iranian rights group says three people sentenced to death in the case of the November 3 killing of Basij militia member Ruhollah Ajamian in Karaj have had their penalties changed to prison time, while several others had their punishments cut as well after a Supreme Court-ordered review of the case.

The Telegram channel called the Committee To Follow Up On The Status Of Detainees said on April 18 that the changes to the sentences came after the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Karaj reexamined the cases of 16 defendants accused of causing Ajamian's death during an anti-government demonstration.

Babak Paknia, one of the lawyers who had clients in the cases, said on Twitter that one defendant, Hamid Qarahasanlou, had their penalty changed from death to 15 years in prison, while two others, Reza Aria and Hossein Mohammadi, will now serve 10 years in prison instead of the death penalty.

Other defendants were handed reduced sentences ranging between three years and 10 years in prison. Three others convicted in the case were pardoned in an amnesty granted by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in February.

All of the 16 had denied the charges, saying they were being targeted for their part in the nationwide protests triggered by Amini's death in September 2022 while in police custody for an alleged head scarf violation.

Paknia said those who were still sentenced to prison time would appeal the decision saying they too are covered under the amnesty.

The incident happened on November 3 in Karaj, the capital of Alborz Province, when mourners were paying tribute to slain protester Hadis Najafi at a cemetery to mark 40 days -- the end of the traditional mourning period -- after she was killed during the protests.

Prosecutors say Ajamian, 27, was stripped naked and killed by a group of mourners who had been paying tribute to Najafi.

Human rights organizations had previously condemned the death sentences of protesters in Iran after what they have termed sham trials that were held via three hearings over six days.

Among those sentenced to death in the case was Qarahasanlou, a doctor whose brother has said officers severely tortured his sibling and sister-in-law while in custody.

Two of those sentenced in the case -- Mohammad Mahdi Karmi and Seyed Mohammad Hosseini -- have already been executed.

Since the death of Amini, Iranians have flooded streets across the country to protest against 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.

The activist HRANA news agency said at least 516 people had been killed during the unrest, including 71 minors, as security forces try to stifle widespread dissent.

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

Iran has already admitted to executing four men for crimes allegedly linked to the protests.

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