Supporter of opposition faces death (update Oct. 8)


Published in “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, October 8 2009
Source: (please copy/paste the link – linking did not work for some unknown reason)
By Tomas Avenarius

An Iranian court apparently has issued the first death sentence with reference to the protests in June. This decision could mark the beginning of further draconian verdicts.

Following the protests against the presidential elections in Iran, the first death sentence has allegedly been imposed against a supporter of regime opponents. The name of the man is said to be Mohammad Reza Al-Samani [sic, later in this translation the correct name will be used], and he is supposed to be a supporter of the monarchists. As of yet, there has been no confirmation by the Iranian judiciary or the convict’s family.

As a rule, convicts on death row may file an appeal. It is unclear, however, if this is also true for the courts conducting mass trials against pro-opposition protestors. In Iran, death sentences are mostly implemented by hanging, very often in public. The Foreign Office in Berlin and the French government called the death sentence unjustified. Tehran must comply with the international standards to protect its citizens. “We expect the death sentence to be lifted.”

Monarchists play a minor role
The first to report on the alleged verdict was the oppositional website Little is known about the convict. According to the website, Ali Zamani is a supporter of a monarchist group. The Iranian monarchy was ended by the Islamic Revolution of 1979. The monarchist part of the opposition is of comparatively minor relevance. The son of the last Shah, living in American exile, had a minor share in the protests against the presidential elections in June.

This first death sentence imposed against a rather unknown member of the opposition could indicate that more dreary verdicts are to come: At least 100 supporters of the opposition are still imprisoned. Among them are senior advisors of both opposition leaders, Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi. However, many ordinary Iranian citizens who participated in the protests have also been detained. Meanwhile, some leading opposition members have been released, most of them belong to renowned families or to Shiite scholar clerics.

At the beginning, the trials were held in public. Their nature was that of show trials. Several defendants who were visibly affected by interrogations and possibly abuses made confessions and filed petitions, thus incriminating their fellow prisoners and the two opposition leaders. They stated that the protests were fueled from abroad.

Conditions in the prisons are said to continue to be scandalizing. The opposition had reported torture and solitary confinement, at least one detainee died as a result of abuse. Due to protests against the conditions in Kahrizak, the detention center was even shut down by order of the Supreme Spiritual Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. As was repeatedly reported by the opposition, female as well as male detainees have been raped by prison guards. This now was denied by police chief Ismail Ahmadi-Moqaddam: There had been cases of “shameful mistakes” in Kahrizak, however there has been no case of rape.


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