Iranian courts have sentenced four protesters to death over the past 24 hours, state media report, as defiant demonstrators continue to take to streets across the country.
A revolutionary court on November 15 handed a death sentence to a defendant accused of “terrorizing people in the street using a bladed weapon, setting fire to the motorcycle of a citizen, and attacking a person with a knife," the judiciary's Mizan website reported late on November 15.
The semiofficial Fars news agency said that three more death sentences were issued on November 16, bringing to five the total number of protesters sentenced to death.
The rulings come three days after a court issued the first capital punishment sentence to a person arrested during rallies sparked two months ago by the death of a 22-year-old woman in the custody of morality police.
Five defendants have been sentenced to prison terms ranging between five and 10 years for "gathering and conspiring to commit crimes against national security and disturbing public order," Mizan reported.
The judiciary said last week that the country’s courts will deal “in a firm, deterrent and legal manner" with anyone who causes “disruptions or commits crimes” during the ongoing wave of protests against the Islamic republic's clerical leadership.
A brutal crackdown by security forces on the protests has killed more than 340 people, including 43 children, according to one human rights organization. Thousands of others have been arrested.
On November 15 in Geneva, a spokesman for the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said it was calling for all charges against peaceful protesters to be dropped.
Speaking at a press briefing, Jeremy Laurence cautioned that Iran can only mete out the death penalty for the “most serious crimes” under international law.
“Instead of opening space for dialogue on legitimate grievances, the authorities are responding to unprecedented protests with increasing harshness,” he said.
The largely peaceful demonstrations have grown to become the biggest challenge to Iran’s regime since the 2009 protest movement.