Two Iranians hanged over mosque bombing

Friday, January 29, 2010

Two men were hanged Iran on Thursday, following their conviction for playing a role in the bombing of a Shiraz mosque, which killed thirteen people, last April.

Mohammad-Ali Zamani and Arash Rahmanipour were charged with trying to overthrow the government, said the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), quoting a statement released by the Tehran prosecutor's office. They were convicted of being "Mohareb", or "enemies of God". They were also charged as being members of a banned monarchist group, the Kingdom Assembly or the Mujahedin Khalq. Prosecutors also claimed that Zamani had met with American forces in Iraq and discussed returning to Iran to carry out political assassinations.

Some media reports have suggested the men were actually executed over last year's election protests. Rahmanipour's lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, clarified that her client played no role in the June election unrest, pointing out to Agence France-Presse that "he was arrested in [March–April] before the election and charged with co-operation with the [monarchist] Kingdom Assembly". She added that he had confessed because of "threats against his family," adding that many of the charges were filed against him while he was a minor — he is now nineteen. Sotoudeh described the trial as being a "show trial", and commented that she hadn't been allowed to represent him in court.

After the June election, which was widely disputed, there were several weeks of demonstrations and protests, which saw 4,000 people arrested by the authorities in a crackdown, among them journalists and reformist politicians. Several million people attended the protests, demanding a re-vote. Opposition groups asserted that the elections were rigged to favour president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but the government denied it, saying it was a foreign-backed attempt to discredit the Iranian government system.