The execution of Iranian protester Mohsen Shekari on the morning of December 8, following three days of general strike, drew public attention to the country’s political prisoners who have been sentenced to death. Many have interpreted Shekari’s sudden execution as a threat staged by the judiciary.
Since the very beginning of the nationwide protests in the middle of September, it has been clear that the repressive clerical regime would apply inhumane practices inside the prisons as its security forces kill, inflict injuries and detain protesters in the streets.
According to information gathered by IranWire, a total of 28 protesters have been handed capital punishment after the eruption of the nationwide protest movement that followed the murder of Mahsa Amini in the custody of morality police.
In this report, we remember the names, the faces and conditions of those who were caught into the nets of a judicial system which, according to Navid Afkari -- a protester who was executed a few years ago -- is looking for necks for its ropes to impose silence to an inflamed society.
“Waging war against God”, "enmity against the Islamic rule" and "spreading corruption on earth" are the three main charges issued against the participants, or alleged participants, in this year’s widespread protests.
Some of them are accused of destroying property; others are blamed for attacking police officers during protests. Another group of suspects are the alleged accomplices in the cases related to the deaths of members of the paramilitary Basij force.
Judges in these cases refer to videos of protests published on social networks or obtained from the defendants' mobile phones. Some suspects have denied the charges against them in front of court cameras, but the Islamic Republic has not granted them any rights. The defendants were deprived of a lawyer of their choice and were kept in solitary confinement; some of them claim they were subjected to both mental and physical torture.
It is necessary to remember that the principles of adherence to transparency and proper reporting of judicial processes are the responsibility of the judiciary and the media, which are in the hands of the oppressive regime.
Five sentenced to death in Basiji murder case; Karaj
The trial related to Ruhollah Ajamian’s death provided the most images of the moment of the beating of the victim, confessions from the accused, and the court proceedings.
In the days leading up to Mohsen Shekari’s execution, Mizan news agency, which is affiliated to the judiciary, went to meet the mother of the Basiji and published a video of her.
Five defendants in the case were handed capital punishment on December 6, and 11 others, including three under-18s, were sentenced to long-term imprisonment of up to 25 years.
The names of the defendants were published by government media on the first days of the trial, but, in its final verdict, the judiciary did not say which defendants were sentenced to death.
The Detainees Follow-up Committee has announced that two of those sentenced to death, Mohammed Mehdi Karami and Seyed Mohammad Hosseini, were the first and second row defendants in the case.
Separately, the committee gave the names of the three children accused of “corruption on Earth”, which carries a death sentence: Amin Mehdi Shokrollahi, Arian Farzamnia, and Amir Mehdi Jafari.
The BBC’s Persian service reported that these three children were physically tortured during their detention.
Mohammad Mahdi Karami; First row defendant
In a video shot in the courtroom and published by government news agencies, Mohammad Mehdi Karami denies involvement in Ajamian’s murder. A video released by IRIB shows Karami and the other defendants on the scene of the killing, but none of them admitted they had any role.
The published videos of Ajamian being beaten and dragged show he was still alive at that moment as he can been seen moving his hands and head. In the video of the court, Karami identifies the main assailant as Seyed Mohammad Hosseini, the second row defendant who was accused of “corruption on Earth” and sentenced to death.
Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini; Second row defendant
Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini repeatedly said in court and in front of the camera that he rejected the murder charge. The video released by IRIB show that Hosseini was arrested in his house where a number of knives were seized. The judge sentenced him to death. The defendant was deprived of the right to choose a lawyer and to contact his family.
Hamid Gharehasanlou; a Gonabadi Dervish
Hamid Gharehasanlou, a radiologist and a member of the Gonabadi Dervish religious community, was arrested along with his wife Farzaneh, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison. His death sentence was delivered to him while he was in hospital to undergo surgery.
Gharehasanlou can be seen on the videos of the night of the incident, but it remains unclear what exactly he was accused of.
His brother said the doctor examined Ajamian while he was still alive and told the other people present on the scene that the injured should be taken to the hospital.
Gharehasanlou refused to accept guilt despite being subjected to torture. He had six of his ribs broken while in custody.
Hossein Mohammadi; Artist
After the execution of Mohsen Shekari, the Detainees Follow-up Committee said that Hossein Mohammadi is 26 years old and has a diploma from the Academy of Fine Arts, a theater actor.
Reza Aria; Father of two
Dadban has written that Reza Aria was tortured to admit murdering Ajamian. In a video published by the judiciary’s news agency, Aria tells the judge he had kicked the victim while he was still alive. Reza Aria, 43, is the father of two children.
Ali Moazzami Gudarzai; Aged 20
Ali Moazzami Gudarzai, 20, can also be seen in the pictures and videos published by government news agencies and IRIB. He has denied committing murder.
Journalist Massoud Kazemi announced on social networks that he was the other accused sentenced to death.
The other defendants in this case are Mehdi Mohammadi, Shayan Charani, Mohammad Amin Akhlaghi, Reza Shakezavardehi, Javad Zargaran, Behrad Alikenari, and Farzaneh Gharehasanlou, who was tortured to testify against husband.
Tehran Akbatan case; Five defendants
Milad Armoun; Framing up a murder
On November 3, government media announced that the perpetrators of the murder of a Basij member named Arman Aliverdi had been arrested in Tehran’s Ekbatan complex.
Video published by media outlets show Milad Armoun blindfolded and saying that he is not a murderer. On November 8, IranWire published a report on the pressure being exerted on Ekbatan residents to gather evidence against Armoun.
Government news agencies said there were five main defendants in the case, including four people from Ekbatan: Behrad Hesari, Mehdi Jahani, Nastouh Nikkhah, and Mohammed Pasandian. They are all accused of assault leading to murder.
Basiji murder case in Isfahan; Three accused
This case is related to the killing of police Colonel Esmaeil Cheraghi and two Basij members named Mohammed Hossein Karimi and Mohsen Hamidi.
The identities of the three main accused were published on social networks: Amir Nasr-Azadani, Saleh Mirhashemi, and Saeed Yaghoubi.
Amir Nasr-Azadani; Footballer
Amir Nasr-Azadani is a former player of Rah-Ahan and Tractor teams. News of his arrest was published in the last days of November. His name later appeared in the Detainee Follow-up Committee’s list of those sentenced to death. According to information circulating on social networks, he was sentenced in the Isfahan case. This footballer has been accused of “waging war against God”.
Saeed Yaghoubi, Saleh Mirhashemi
There were no details available about Saeed Yaghoubi and Saleh Mirhashemi but their names appeared on the list of Detainee Follow-up Committee, and social media posts mentioned them as being among those sentenced to death for “waging war against God”.
In an IRIB report, they are shown standing against a wall with blindfolds, but the identities of the two men are not mentioned.
Mamlekate Telegram channel provided pictures of Yaghoubi and Mirhashemi, saying they had been charged over the killing of a police officer and two Basij members. It said that Yaghoubi is aged 30 and Mirhashemi 31.
Charges leading to death sentence in cases without a plaintiff or victim
Toumaj Salehi; Artist
Following the arrest of rapper Toumaj Salehi, government news agencies published various videos of him during his arrest or while he was making forced confessions.
His family said the artist was accused of "corruption on Earth". On November 27, Tasnim news agency quoted Isfahan Chief Justice as accusing Salehi of "spreading lies", "propaganda against the regime", "forming and running illegal groups with the intention of disrupting the security of the country", "collaborating with hostile states against the Islamic Republic", "confusing public opinion” through social media and "inciting and encouraging people to commit violent acts".
Sahand Nourmohammadzadeh, Aged 26
Sahand Nourmohammadzadeh was arrested on October 4 during protests on Tehran’s Ashrafi Esfahani Highway and later accused of “waging war against God" by "attempting to break the guardrail [of the highway] and setting fire to a trash can."
He had rejected the accusation, saying in an audio file provided to IranWire that he only moved the guardrail and kicked the trash can twice.
Nourmohammadzadeh, who is being held in Greater Tehran prison, has been under pressure to confess to the charges.
Mahan Sadratmarni; Accused of casing Fear
Judge Iman Afshari has accused Mahan Sadratmarni of “waging war against God", including by "showing a cold weapon in a way that causes insecurity and fear in the crowd".
A plaintiff claims to have been injured by Sadratmarni. The accused, who was deprived of the right to have a lawyer of his choice, says that he did not have a cold weapon. Shargh reported on December 8 that one of the plaintiffs in the case has withdrawn his complaint.
Manouchehr Mehman-Navaz; Accused of setting fire to public building
Manouchehr Mehman-Navaz has been accused in court of setting fire to the governorate of Gharchak and Varamin.
He denied the accusation during an October 29 court session and said that he was not present on the scene when the building was set on fire. But the judge sentenced him to death on the charge of “waging war against God". Mehman-Navaz was deprived of the right to a lawyer of his choice during the investigation.
Mohammad Baroghani; Alleged Protest Leader
Mohammed Baroghani was tried on October 29 in Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court on charges of " waging war against God" for "attacking the Pakdasht governorate with mobs and setting fire to the governorate" and "attacking a government official and injuring him". The judge unjustly claimed that a video found on his cell phone shows Baroghani holding a "machete".
The court’s report said the sentence was based on the evidence provided by videos on the defendant’s phone and his confessions. Baroghani did not have a lawyer during the proceedings.
Saman Saydi (Yasin); Singer
Saman (Yasin) Saydi has been sentenced to death for "waging war against God", based on evidence provided by a blurred and unintelligible video with the voice of the accused.
In the video, a shot is fired in the air in a quiet alley and smoke rises from the gun. It is not clear what the weapon is, in which direction the projectile is being shot and who the armed person is.
However, Judge Abolghasem Salavati insisted that Saydi was armed. The defendant told the court he had only a shotgun.
Mohammed Esmaeilbeigi, Yasin's lawyer, tweeted he had not been given permission to read the case’s file and that the court documents have nothing to do with Saydi.
The singer’s mother published a video asking people who believe in human rights to help her son.
Parham Parvari, a 26-year-old resident of Tehran, was charged with "waging war against God" 40 days after his arrest. His father has asked for help in a video.
Parvari, who is originally from Saqqez in Kurdistan Province, was returning home from work when he encountered security forces who were destroying cars. He was arrested when they reached his car.
Ebrahim Rigi; Alleged Protest Leader
Ebrahim Rigi, 24, was arrested in Zahedan on October 13. The Baloch Activists Campaign announced that he is accused of leading protests, "waging war against God" and "corruption on Earth".
He was reportedly arrested when he was returning from Zahedan Social Welfare hospital with his family.
Mohammad Ghobadlou; Accused of Killing Sergeant
The judiciary said Mohammed Ghobadlou was accused of "corruption on Earth" and sentenced to death for killing a police officer with a white Peykan car.
According to his lawyer, Amir Raisian, another court hearing is scheduled for December 10. He has called for an investigation into the "mental state of the accused".
Majid Rahnavard; Accused of murdering Basijis
Majid Rahnavard is accused of murdering two Basij members named Daniyal Rezazadeh and Hossein Zainalzadeh in the northeastern city of Mashhad. The video of two Basij members being beaten by a passer-by was published on social networks.
Rahnavard, who was deprived of the right to a lawyer of his choice, has been sentenced to death on the charge of "waging war against God". His trial in Mashhad was presided by Judge Hadi Mansouri. According to the Detainee Follow-up Committee, Rahnavard was beaten and his hand was broken during his arrest.
Akbar Ghaffari; Accused of murder
Akbar Ghaffari, who is illiterate, has been accused of "waging war against God". While in solitary confinement he signed a paper he could not read.
It later turned out that it was written on the paper, "I killed a person, I'm glad I killed him!" That’s according to Shahriar Shams, a student activist who has been imprisoned with Ghaffari.
Shams wrote that Ghaffari, who is living alone in Falah near Tehran, has sheltered protesters in his home.
Other defendants sentenced to Death
The following names have been mentioned in different lists, but no photos of the defendants are immediately available. IranWire’s investigations to obtain more information about them and the accusations they are facing have been fruitless.
The report of a court headed by Judge Abolghasem Salavati mentions the name of Saeed Shirazi. The report states he was accused of "corruption on Earth" by severely disrupting of order and inciting people to commit crimes against the security of the country.
The prosecutor's representative in Gharchak asked for Shirazi to be punished. The accused denied all the accusations against him.
Judge Salavati accused Shirazi of providing training on how to make hand-made grenades and of insulting the authorities.
Abolfazl Mehri Hossein Hajilu is the second name that came up in the court headed by Judge Salavati. He is accused of "fighting against the Islamic rule by setting fire to a public vehicle in order to disrupt the order and security of the country." The prosecutor of Baharestan city requested punishment for the defendant.
According to the court report, Hajilu said he was arrested by police officers while he was lying down in the street after consuming alcohol.
Mohsen Rezazadeh Gharagholou appeared before the same court on the charge of "waging war against God". He was accused of "participating in setting fire to a public vehicle in order to disrupt public order and security", "gathering and colluding to commit a crime against internal security", "making Molotov cocktails for anti-security purposes" and "throwing stones at law enforcement officers".
Unidentified Defendants in Basiji murder case
On December 6, government media published a video about the framing of protesters in Lahijan in the case related to the killing of Hamid Pournorouz, a Basij member.
The identities of the defendants are unknown. The video shows six people blindfolded who are said to be the defendants in the case. The unidentified defendants include two men aged 21 and 25, three teenage girls and a 35-year-old woman who introduces herself as a teacher. They express remorse over the killing.
According to what the accused said and the scenario developed in the video, Pournorouz was killed by protesters in a house near Kashef Street on November 3.