Middle East

Iran executes protester with mental health condition, judiciary says

By Adam Pourahmadi, CNN

CNN  —  An Iranian protester with a mental health condition has been executed over the death of a local official during mass demonstrations that rocked the country in 2022, the Iranian judiciary’s news agency reported on Tuesday.

“The death sentence of Mohammad Ghobadlou for the crime of intentional murder of Farid Karampour Hassanvand was executed this morning after 487 days of judicial review of the case,” the Mizan news agency said.

Iranian authorities allege Ghobadlou ran over the official during a protest in Robat Karim, Tehran province, in September 2022, according to rights group Amnesty International.

He was sentenced to death by judge Abolqasem Salavati – who has been sanctioned by the United States for the notoriously harsh sentences he issued to activists, journalists and political prisoners, CNN previously reported.

Ghobadlou received two death sentences – one for “corruption on Earth,” issued by a Revolutionary Court and upheld by the Supreme Court, and one for murder, issued by a criminal court in Tehran province, according to Amnesty.

Mizan reported that the death sentence for “corruption on Earth” was suspended earlier this month until the intentional murder charge was investigated.

Ghobadlou’s lawyer Amir Raesian said he was not notified about a ruling regarding his client, and called on Mizan to release more information on the execution.

“If Mizan news agency is telling the truth, it should announce the number and date of issuance of this verdict,” Raesian said in a statement on X.

Amnesty has criticized the death sentences for following what it described as “grossly unfair sham trials, marred by torture-tainted ‘confessions’ and failure to order rigorous mental health assessments despite (Ghobadlou’s) mental disability.”

Ghobadlou had been under the supervision of a psychiatric hospital for bipolar disorder since the age of 15, Amnesty said. International law and standards prohibit using the death penalty against people with mental disabilities, according to the rights group.

Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the director of Norway-based Iranian human rights group Iran Human Rights (IHR), called Ghobadlou’s execution an “extrajudicial killing.”

On X, formerly Twitter, he wrote that “the Islamic Republic’s leader Ali Khamenei and his Judiciary must be held accountable for this crime. This execution must be met with strong international condemnations!”

At least eight protesters are known to have been executed in connection to nationwide demonstrations over the death of Mahsa Amini in September 2022.

Amini, a 22-year-old woman, died in the custody of Iran’s morality police after being arrested for allegedly not wearing her headscarf properly.

Protests spread like wildfire in the following weeks – which Iranian authorities responded to with brute force, mass arrests and hasty sham trials, drawing sharp global condemnation and sanctions from the US.

More than 300 people were killed in the months-long protests, including more than 40 children, the United Nations said. US-based Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) placed the number of dead at more than 500, including 70 children. Thousands were arrested across the country, the UN said in a report last year, citing research from its Human Rights Committee.

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