Actor, doctor, engineer: stories of Iranians sentenced to death over killing at protest

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An actor, a radiologist, a poultry concern employee, a karate champion, an technologist – these are 5 men sentenced to decease successful Iran for alleged crimes linked to anti-regime protests. The charges raised against them included murder. With tribunal hearings held mostly successful secret, their trials person been wide condemned arsenic a sham.

All are owed to beryllium executed successful transportation with the killing of an cause from the country’s feared paramilitary forces, the Basij. The tribunal says Ruhollah Ajamian, 27, was stripped bare and murdered connected 3 November. But the circumstances of Ajamian’s decease are opaque. The alleged onslaught occurred astatine a protestation commemorating a demonstrator, Hadis Najafi, who had been changeable dormant by information forces astatine a rally demanding rights for women.

Tehran has forcefully suppressed peaceful protests that erupted successful September, and rights groups impeach pro-regime units of sidesplitting hundreds of unarmed demonstrators. Officials question to represent the rallies arsenic convulsive “riots” successful which information forces person been acceptable upon.

Verified accusation is scarce. Authorities person been nary little hardline successful their attempts to soundlessness the families and friends of those connected decease row, informing them against speaking out. But immoderate consciousness staying quiescent could beryllium worse.

The Guardian has spoken to household and friends of each 5 men accused of sidesplitting Ajamian. Their grounds suggests that the 5 – nary of whom look to person been acquainted with each different – were astir apt forced to springiness mendacious confessions.

Hamid Ghare-Hasanlou, 53

Hamid Ghare-Hasanlou
Hamid Ghare-Hasanlou. Photograph: handout

Dr Hamid Ghare-Hasanlou, a radiologist from Karaj, was charged successful the Ajamian lawsuit with “corruption connected earth”, a word utilized by courts successful the Islamic Republic. His wife, Farzaneh, was sentenced to up to 25 years successful prison. Amnesty International has said Farzaneh was coerced into giving mendacious incriminating statements against her husband.

Ghare-Hasanlou’s brother, Hasan, said his sibling and sister-in-law had been protesting peacefully, and were detained by constabulary astatine 2am the adjacent day. “They arrested them and bushed Hamid successful beforehand of their 13-year-old daughter,” Hasan said. “She is traumatised now, and with what has happened during these weeks and the decease condemnation of her dad, she is not successful a bully intelligence condition. In lone a fewer hours, their lives wholly changed.

“We cognize that helium was tortured successful custody arsenic well. Five of his rib bones broke portion they tortured him into confessing what helium had not done. His near lung got punctured and helium started bleeding. They delayed successful taking him to the hospital, truthful a humor clot formed successful his lung.”

Speaking connected the information of anonymity, a adjacent person of Ghare-Hasanlou said: “They enactment a weapon nether Hamid’s pharynx erstwhile they wanted to apprehension him portion his girl was close there. They threatened his girl that they would termination her parents if she told anyone astir what had happened earlier sunrise. They besides person a lad studying astatine a aesculapian university. He is 20 years aged and is connected the run, going from 1 harmless location to different truthful that they don’t apprehension him successful bid to enactment much unit connected his parents.”

Mohammad Mehdi Karami, 22

Mohammad Mehdi Karami
Mohammad Mehdi Karami. Photograph: handout

“I’m a pedlar. I merchantability things connected the street,” said a distraught Mashallah Karami, the begetter of 22-year-old Mehdi Karami, different of the accused. He was speaking in a video released by the reformist Etemad newspaper, pleading with authorities to merchandise his son. “I’m asking and begging to region the decease punishment from my son’s file.”

Karami, a karate champion, had been convicted of “corruption connected earth” by a tribunal successful Alborz state connected 5 December. As good arsenic the 5 radical sentenced to decease for allegedly sidesplitting Ajamian, 11 others received situation sentences. Iranian quality rights groups and Amnesty International dismissed it arsenic a amusement trial, saying the tribunal did not adjacent specify each defendant’s alleged involvement.

Etemad reported that Karami’s begetter had said authorities refused to fto the household name their ain lawyer.

Hossein Mohammadi, 26

Hossein Mohammadi
Hossein Mohammadi. Photograph: handout

Hossein Mohammadi, a theatre actor, was besides convicted successful the Ajamian case. “His household and adjacent friends decided to denote his execution condemnation publically 5 days aft they knew astir it,” a adjacent person of Mohammadi told the Guardian. They took truthful long, the idiosyncratic said, due to the fact that “they were frightened to study it publicly” aft their government-appointed defence lawyers warned them against it, saying it could negatively impact his case.

Mohammadi has a emotion of astronomy, and Interstellar is his favourite film, the person said. “Hossein is simply a precise affectional person, and helium loves acting,” the person said. “There’s not a batch of wealth successful theatre acting, and truthful to marque ends conscionable helium worked successful a station office.”

Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini, 39

Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini
Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini. Photograph: handout

An worker of a poultry company, Mohammad Hosseini was connected his mode to wage respects to his precocious parents astatine their graves connected 3 November. He came crossed a ample radical of protesters who were marching successful representation of Najafi, a adjacent person said.

The root said Seyyed had been battling intelligence wellness issues ever since his parents died astir 15 years ago. He is the sole breadwinner and liable for providing for his brother, who has a cause addiction.

“Seyyed wanted to spell to the sedate of his parents arsenic helium ever did connected Thursday nights. Then helium didn’t travel to enactment connected Saturday, and I deliberation it was connected Monday that we saw him connected authorities TV,” said the friend.

Iran’s judiciary has claimed Mohammad Hosseini confessed to stabbing Ajamian. “Seyyed is simply a quiescent and good-natured antheral who was loved by many. He could not adjacent basal connected his feet earlier taking 7-8 pills regular for anxiety. Those knives that helium had carried connected that time were for sports since helium was a martial arts teacher … helium gave lessons to children for free. Seyyed has nary 1 successful this satellite and lone makes astir $190 a month.”

Mohammad Hosseini’s lawsuit has been intimately followed by the Iranian diaspora. Darya Safai, a Belgian MP of Iranian origin, announced “political sponsorship” of Mohammad Hosseini, personally pursuing up connected his case.

A erstwhile governmental captive who was arrested and imprisoned successful Iran during the 1999 protests, Safai said she felt powerfully astir the case. “I cognize that a captive keeps reasoning ‘is the extracurricular satellite going to hide astir me’. I consciousness similar it’s a work for america to enactment these prisoners,” she said. “I chose him truthful I could beryllium his family. I anticipation helium knows that helium has a immense household successful the satellite now.”

An autarkic lawyer, Ali Sharifzadeh Ardakani, was not allowed to support Mohammad Hosseini but has studied the lawsuit and sought to assistance him. He said connected Twitter helium had been allowed to conscionable Mohammad Hosseini. “His communicative was devastating – from torture to getting beaten up with his eyes closed and hands and feet tied up, to kicks successful the caput to the constituent that helium passed out. From robust rods utilized to bushed him connected the soles of the feet and shocks successful antithetic parts of the body. His statements successful tribunal were made nether torture and they person nary ineligible grounds,” helium said.

The main justness of Alborz province, Hossein Fazeli Harikandi, has denied the accusations of torture.

Reza Arya, 43

Reza Arya
Reza Arya. Photograph: handout

Reza Arya has not been officially announced arsenic the 5th idiosyncratic to person received a decease condemnation successful transportation to the Ajamian case, but a adjacent comparative told the Guardian that helium is.

The comparative said Arya was employed by the underground energy department, and his household loves music. Arya plays the stringed santoor, portion his lad and his woman play drums.

Arya was driving to sojourn relatives connected the time of the protest, the root said. “The dense postulation blocked the road, truthful Reza got retired of the car to spot what was going on. When helium stepped out, helium saw radical gathered astir the spot wherever Ajamian was killed. He was already dormant erstwhile Reza got there.”

Alireza Akhondi, a Swedish MP of Iranian origin, has sponsored Arya’s case. “In this hard concern and the oppression that Iranian radical are facing successful the past 43 years, it is truly important that we bash immoderate we tin for these people,” helium said. “These executions are not based connected anything.”

Akhondi said attempts to pass with Iranian officials regarding the lawsuit had failed. “They privation to amusement that they don’t attraction … They are playing governmental games that are excessively acquainted for america arsenic politicians. I spot this arsenic the authorities is scared. I deliberation this is the archetypal clip that the authorities sees that the concern is precise serious.”

Arya’s comparative said helium was arrested astatine his workplace 2 weeks aft the alleged crime, and was present successful solitary confinement. He had been allowed to telephone his household from jailhouse to accidental helium would beryllium executed.

“The children are not attending schoolhouse immoderate more,” the comparative said. “His mediocre parents are some precise aged and religious. They support crying each day. They person said that if helium is executed, they volition suffer each their religion successful Islam.”