Iran has hanged a man in public over the alleged killing of two members of security forces, government news agencies say, in the second reported execution linked to ongoing nationwide protests in less than a week.
Majidreza Rahnavard was hanged in the northeastern city of Mashhad in the morning of December 12 after being convicted of waging war against God, a charge that carries a death sentence.
Media outlets close to the government say that Rahnavard stabbed and killed two members of the paramilitary Basij force, identified as Daniyal Rezazadeh and Hossein Zeinalzadeh, during protests in Mashhad on November 17.
Rahnavard was quoted as confessing to the crime, but it was not clear under which circumstances the confession was taken from him.
Activists say his hand was broken during his arrest on November 19.
Rahnavard, like many of those arrested during the nationwide protests, did not have the right to choose a lawyer of his choice or the opportunity to defend himself.
Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, director of the Norway-based Iran Human Rights group, said in a statement, “The public execution of a young protester, 23 days after his arrest, is another serious crime committed by the Islamic Republic leaders and a significant escalation of the level of violence against protesters. Majidreza Rahnavard was sentenced to death based on coerced confessions, after a grossly unfair process and a show trial.”
"The Islamic Republic leaders are committing such crimes because they need to spread fear among people and save the regime from the nationwide protests”, he added.
Rahnavard was tried by the Mashhad Revolutionary Court. A lawyer in Tehran told IranWire that Revolutionary Courts do not have the jurisdiction to deal with murder cases, “that's why the charge of waging war against God is issued".
"According to Article 303 of the Criminal Procedure Law, crimes against internal and external security, war against God, corruption on earth, sedition, collusion, destruction of public property, insult to the leadership and officials, smuggling of weapons, narcotics and psychotropic substances are investigated by revolutionary courts.”
The lawyer added, "It is clear from the confessions of this person that he had no lawyer, this person did not defend himself at all and did not ask for any reduction in punishment. He confessed and got punished. In such cases, considering past examples, it seems that the accused was under so much pressure that he preferred to get out of that situation, even by dying."
Mizan news agency, which is affiliated to the judiciary, cited Rahnavard as telling the court he had gone “the wrong way.”
“I admit that I made a mistake and I understand the feeling of public hatred against what I did. My thoughts and beliefs were wrong. I hid the knife in my hand and did not understand what happened and now I am waiting to be punished as soon as possible", he reportedly said.
Iran carried out its first execution of a protester on December 8, hanging Mohsen Shekari after convicting him of waging war against God for allegedly wounding a Basij member.
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 September 16 death of Mahsa Amini in the custody of morality police. Amini was being held for allegedly wearing a head scarf improperly.
Security forces have launched a deadly crackdown on demonstrators, killing at least 458 people including 63 children and 29 women, activists say. At least 18,000 people have been detained.