2009/10/11

Raped, sodomized and sentenced to death

Iranian officials have sentenced to death three protesters who participated in demonstrations following the nation’s disputed presidential election in June, according to ISNA, Iran’s semiofficial news agency.

The news service quoted an unnamed spokesman for the Tehran prosecutor’s office saying that the three were sentenced to be hanged and that they had been part of what Iran considered terrorist organizations.

The death sentences are the first to be made public in cases involving the hundreds charged in the vast protests that followed the government’s declaration of a landslide victory for the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in the June 12 presidential election.

Reform-aligned Web sites reported last week that a prisoner named Mohammad-Reza Ali-Zamani had received a death sentence. The announcement on Saturday, which said a man with the initials M. Z. would be put to death, appears to confirm that sentence and report two others.

According to the report Saturday, two of the protesters were members of the Kingdom Assembly of Iran, a group that wants to restore the monarchy.

The third, identified as N. A., was said to be a member of People’s Mujahedeen of Iran, an exile group that Iran says works to overthrow the government.

The news of death sentences sparked immediate condemnation from international human rights groups. In the weeks after the election, millions of Iranians marched in the streets of Tehran, charging that Mr. Ahmadinejad stole the race. At least 30 people were killed in a government crackdown that quelled the protests but failed to end the simmering discontent.

“Zamani’s trial was a mockery of justice,” the executive director of Amnesty International USA, Larry Cox, said in a statement. “To impose the death sentence is beyond deplorable. Iran should immediately rescind this sentence.”

The ISNA report, without giving details, said the court also sentenced 18 other protesters. That raised concerns about the hundreds of journalists, former government officials, academics and protesters still held in prison, many incommunicado, said the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, a group based in the United States.

There have been many charges of protesters’ being tortured while in prison, and the government has agreed that some prisoners were abused, although it has continued to dispute accusations that some were raped and sodomized.

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