Amnesty International has urged Iranian authorities to immediately quash the conviction and death sentence against Reza Rasaei, a man accused of involvement in the killing of a security agent during nationwide protests last year.
“If charged with a recognizable criminal offence, proceedings must meet international fair trial standards without recourse to the death penalty and exclude “confessions” obtained under torture,” the London-based human rights watchdog said on November 6.
Rasaei, a 34-year-old member from Iran’s oppressed Kurdish and Yaresan ethnic and religious minorities, was arrested on November 24, 2022 in Shahriar, Tehran province. He is currently being held in Dizel Abad prison in the southern province of Kermanshah.
Amnesty International quoted an informed source as saying that the man was subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, including “electric shocks, suffocation by putting a plastic bag over his head and severe beatings to compel his forced ‘confessions.’”
Last month, a court in Kermanshah sentenced Rasaei to death for his alleged involvement in the “murder” of an agent, identified as a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) by state media, during a protest in Sahneh, Kermanshah province.
Rasaei, who has repeatedly denied involvement, was also sentenced to one year in prison and 74 lashes for “disrupting public order.”
In its verdict, Branch 2 of Criminal Court 1 dismissed Razaei’s retraction of his forced “confession.”
The defendant only met his lawyer for the first time at trial, which took place over three sessions.
“His right to a fair trial was flagrantly violated, including to access a lawyer of his choosing from the time of arrest, to meaningfully challenge the legality of his detention and to be tried by an independent, competent and impartial tribunal,” Amnesty International said.
The group urged the authorities to immediately grant Rasaei access to his family, independently chosen lawyer and adequate medical care, to protect him from further ill-treatment and to “investigate his torture allegations, bringing anyone found responsible to justice in fair trials.”
Iranian authorities unleashed a brutal crackdown on monthslong protests sparked by the death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September 2022.
More than 520 people were killed during demonstrations and over 20,000 were unlawfully detained, activists say.
Following biased trials, the judiciary has handed down stiff sentences, including the death penalty, to protesters. Seven of them have been executed so far.
The protests and clampdown on dissent have been particularly intense in Iran’s western Kurdish areas and Sistan and Baluchistan, which is home to the country’s Sunni Baluch minority.