On October 26 last year, Iranians took to the streets across the country to mark the 40th day since the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini. In response, the security forces unleashed a deadly crackdown on the demonstrations.
As students from the Malayer University of Medicine held a protest rally in the central city that day, Milad Zohrehvand, a 20-year-old man who did not attend the demonstration, was shot in the hand by a bullet and arrested on Saif al-Dovleh Boulevard, eight minutes away from the university.
Zohrehvand was later sentenced to death for allegedly murdering a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), identified as Ali Nazari.
The prosecutor of Hamadan announced this week that the Supreme Court upheld the sentence.
Contradictory Accounts of Events
The name of Ali Nazari surfaced on the evening of October 26, when the IRGC in Malayer announced that one of its members lost his life while pursuing "riot leaders.”
“He was shot, resulting in his martyrdom," the statement said.
The next day the IRGC’s Ansar al-Hassan Corp in Hamadan vowed to seek revenge for the killing.
The statement mentioned the arrest of "five people" involved in the incident, adding that four others were identified.
Details regarding Nazari's death are sketchy, with the government officials and judicial authorities in Hamadan province providing different versions of the incident.
The IRGC-affiliated Tasnim news agency first reported about the death at 9:00 p.m. on October 26, citing Malayer’s Prosecutor Mohammad Rahimi.
"Despite the orders, the suspects attempted to flee,” the report reads. “During the pursuit, the police officers fired at the car, which momentarily stopped. Subsequently, an IRGC intelligence officer approached the vehicle and, as the door opened, one of the rioters shot directly at the car, seriously injuring Ali Nazari. Unfortunately, Ali Nazari, the guard, succumbed to his injuries after being rushed to the hospital."
"One of the assailants was injured," the report says, adding that "all four suspects managed to escape."
However, the semi-official Fars news agency quoted a local government official in Malayer as saying that "seven people were identified, two were arrested within half an hour, and six were detained by midnight."
"Four to five people with their faces covered and one or two people inside the car were prepared to shoot. When Nazari opened the back door, the assailant, armed with a gun, shot Nazari,” said Hussein Farsi, the deputy governor of Malayer.
The news reports did not disclose the names of the arrested individuals.
Fars also reported on October 26 that Nazri lost his life accidentally while security forces were suppressing the protests near Malayer University of Medical Sciences amid "fighting” between the Zohrehvand and Qiyasvand ethnic clans.
"Fifteen members of these two groups, with four vehicles and various weapons," faced security forces deployed to the scene to "quell the protests,” the report said.
News agencies such as Mizan, IRNA, ISNA did not report about Nazari's death and the arrest of the suspects until September 27 this year.
Fars claimed that the IRGC member was born in 1990, while Tasnim news agency gave 1986 as his birthdate.
Khamenei Issues Execution Order
An execution order was issued for Zohrehvand in June this year, but the case remained secret until September 27, when Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei referred to Nazri as a "martyr” and called for the punishment of the perpetrators.
Following these remarks, the military and government officials, including the head of the Basij paramilitary force, the representative of Hamadan province’s governor, and the assistant provincial governor, visited Nazri's family.
"My son sacrificed his life for the system and the leader," media reports quoted Nazri's father as saying.
Less than two months after Khamenei's directive to bring the perpetrators of Nazri's killing to justice, Hamadan’s prosecutor announced the confirmation of Zohrehvand’s death sentence by the Supreme Court.
What Do We Know About Zohrehvand?
Zohrehvand, born in 2002, was employed as an asphalt worker. His name captured media attention after he was sentenced to death for being the "main suspect" in the death of an IRGC member.
His first child was born while his father was in detention.
The young man faced pressure to “confess” to being a "rioter" and was denied access to legal representation.
More than 500 people were killed by security forces and over 20,000 were unlawfully detained during the unrest that rocked Iran for months.
Following biased trials, the judiciary has handed down stiff sentences, including the death penalty, to protesters.
Seven of them have been executed so far.
There are growing concerns that Zohrehvand could soon become the eighth man to be arbitrarily hanged in relation to the nationwide uprising after sham trials.