At least five protesters arrested in Iran last week during anti-government demonstrations will be tried on charges of warring against God, which carries the death sentence if they are found guilty, Iran’s judiciary said Thursday.
The severity of both the charge and punishment, coming so soon after the defendants were arrested, suggested that the Islamic theocracy was stepping up its efforts to intimidate protesters into ending the anti-government demonstrations that began over the disputed election results in June and have erupted periodically ever since despite a brutal crackdown.
In a statement carried by IRNA, Iran’s official news agency, the judiciary said that the five would soon be tried by the revolutionary court on charges of “Moharebeh,” meaning waging war against God, which is punishable by death according to the penal code. The statement did not disclose the names of the defendants, when they would be tried or any details of accusations against them.
Tehran’s prosecutor general, Abbas Dolatabadi Jaffari, had said Sunday that the judiciary would confront detainees arrested during the most recent protests “very severely” Iran’s ISNA news agency reported.
Authorities have invoked the “Moharebeh” charge against other detainees but some courts have dismissed it, said Nasrin Sotoodeh, a lawyer in Tehran who has represented several detainees.
“What is very surprising is how the court has come up with the indictment in 10 days since the arrest of the detainees,” she said in a telephone interview. “How was the indictment put together so quickly? When did the defendants hire or meet with their lawyer? When did the lawyer read the case?” she asked. “No sane mind can believe that all this was possible in 10 days.”