DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran said Saturday it executed two men convicted of allegedly killing a paramilitary volunteer during a demonstration, the latest executions aimed at stopping nationwide protests now challenging the country’s theocracy.
The Iranian judiciary identified those executed as Mohammad Karami and Mohammad Hosseini, saying that four men had been executed since demonstrations began in September over the death of Mahsa Amini. All faced internationally criticized speedy trials behind closed doors.
Judicial news agency Mizan reported that the men were convicted of killing Ruhollah Ajamian, a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards volunteer Basij Force, in the city of Karaj outside Tehran on November 3. The Basijs deployed to major cities, attacking and detaining protesters who in many cases resisted.
Heavily edited footage aired on state television showed Karami speaking before the Revolutionary Court about the attack, which also showed a re-enactment of the attack as claimed by prosecutors. Iran’s Revolutionary Courts handed down two other death sentences already carried out.
The tribunals do not allow those on trial to choose their own lawyers or even to see the evidence against them. Amnesty International said the trials “was nothing like a reasonable trial”.
State television also aired footage of Karami and Hosseini discussing the attack, although the broadcaster has been airing what activists describe as forced confessions for years.
The men were convicted of manslaughter as well as “corruption of the Earth,” a term and charge in the Koran that has been imposed on others for decades since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and carries the death penalty.
Activists say at least 16 people have been sentenced to death in closed-door hearings over allegations related to the protests. Death sentences in Iran are usually carried out by hanging.
At least 517 protesters have been killed and more than 19,200 people have been arrested, according to human rights activists in Iran, a group that closely monitored the riots. Iranian authorities have not released an official number of dead or detained.
The protests began in mid-September when 22-year-old Amini died after being arrested by Iran’s morality police for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code. Women have taken a leading role in the protests, with many publicly shedding the mandatory Islamic headscarf, known as the hijab.
The protests are one of the biggest challenges facing the Iranian theocracy since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Security forces used live ammunition, birdshot, tear gas and batons to disperse the protesters, according to human rights groups.