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Iran hangs two men accused of killing a security agent during Reuters protests

Iran hangs two men accused of killing a security agent during Reuters protests

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(Reuters) – Iran hanged two men on Saturday for allegedly killing a member of the security forces during nationwide protests that followed the death of 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini on September 16, what the EU, the United States and other western nations was convicted.

The two men executed on Saturday were found guilty of murdering a member of the paramilitary Basij militia. Three others were sentenced to death in the same case and eleven to prison terms.

“Mohammad Mehdi Karami and Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini, the main perpetrators of the crime that led to the unjust martyrdom of Ruhollah Ajamian, were hanged this morning,” the judiciary said in a statement from the official IRNA news agency.

The latest executions bring the number of protesters officially known to have been executed after the riots to four.

The European Union’s top diplomat condemned the executions on Saturday and called on Iran to immediately stop carrying out death sentences against demonstrators and to overturn existing sentences.

“This is another sign of the Iranian authorities’ violent repression of civilian demonstrations,” Josep Borrell said in a statement.

US special envoy to Iran Robert Malley also condemned the executions, saying they followed “sham trials”. “These executions have to stop,” Malley said on Twitter.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly condemned the executions on Saturday and called on Iran to “stop violence against its own people immediately”.

The French Foreign Ministry called the executions “repugnant” and called on the Iranian authorities to heed the “legitimate aspirations of the Iranian people”.

The Dutch government said it will summon the Iranian ambassador to the Netherlands for the second time in a month to express concerns about the execution of protesters, and urged other EU countries to do the same.

Amnesty International said last month that Iranian authorities are seeking the death penalty for at least 26 others in so-called “mock trials to intimidate protesters.”

All death sentences were denied the right to an adequate defense and access to lawyers of their choice. Human rights groups say the accused have instead had to rely on state-appointed lawyers, who do little to defend them.

Amnesty said the court that convicted Karami, a 22-year-old karate champion, relied on coerced confessions.

Hosseini’s lawyer, Ali Sharifzadeh Ardakani, said in a December 18 tweet that Hosseini had been severely tortured and that confessions extracted under torture had no legal basis.

He said Hosseini was beaten with his hands and feet tied, kicked in the head until he passed out and given electric shocks to various parts of his body.

Iran denies that confessions are extracted under torture.

NEW POLICE COMMANDER

Mahsa Amini died in custody in September after being arrested by morality police, who were enforcing the Islamic Republic’s mandatory dress code. The ensuing protests pose one of the greatest challenges for the Islamic Republic since its founding in 1979.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday appointed hard-line police officer Ahmad Reza Radan as the new national police commander, state media reported.

Radan, who faced US sanctions in 2010 for human rights abuses, has frequently called for strict enforcement of the country’s Islamic dress code for women during his previous police positions.

The Basij force, which is linked to Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards, is behind much of the crackdown on protesters.

Iran, which has blamed its foreign enemies, including the United States, for the unrest, sees its crackdown on protests as safeguarding national sovereignty.

Human rights group HRANA said 517 protesters had been killed in unrest as of Friday, including 70 minors. 68 members of the security forces were also killed, it said.

Up to 19,262 protesters are believed to have been arrested, it said.

Iranian officials said up to 300 people, including members of the security forces, died.

The first protester known to have been executed was 23-year-old Mohsen Shekari on December 8, less than three months after his arrest. He was accused of setting fire to a trash can, blocking a road, stabbing a member of the Basij militia with a machete and threatening public safety.

Majid Reza Rahnavard, 23, was publicly hung from a crane in the northeastern city of Mashhad on December 12, less than a month after his arrest. He was accused of stabbing two Basij members and injuring four others in Mashhad.

(dubai.newsroom@thomsonreuters.com Additional reporting by Gilles Guillaume in Paris, editing by Simon Cameron-Moore, Frances Kerry, Ros Russell and Matthew Lewis)

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