Iran hangs two post-election 'rioters'

TEHRAN: Iran today hanged two men convicted of being Mohareb (enemies of God), in the first executions of dissidents since protests erupted over the disputed presidential election in June, news reports said.

“Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani and Arash Rahmani Pour, whose cases were confirmed by a Tehran appeals court, were hanged this morning,” ISNA news agency said, quoting a statement from the Tehran prosecutor’s office.

The pair were also charged with plotting to topple the Islamic regime, the agency added.

They were the first reported hangings of people tried after the wave of protest that broke out following the re-election last June 12 of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to a second four-year term.

Amnesty International urged Tehran to lift Zamani’s death sentence in October. A member of the Kingdom Assembly of Iran, he was among scores of people arrested in the mass demonstrations after the election.

Rahmani Pour’s lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, denied that her client had anything to do with the post-poll riots.

“He was arrested in Farvardin (the Iranian month covering March-April) before the election and charged with cooperation

with the (monarchist) Kingdom Assembly,” Sotoudeh told AFP.

He was aged 19 at the time of

his arrest, she said.Sotoudeh said she had been prevented from representing

Rahmani Pour at what she called his “show trial” in July, and that many of the chargesrelated to when he was a minor.

“He confessed because of threats against his family,” she said, adding that she was shocked at the news of the executions because both she and her client’s family had been waiting for word from the appeals court.

The statement from the prosecutor’s office said nine other detained protesters faced similar charges.

“Nine others among the recent months’ rioters are still in the appeal phase and, if they are convicted, then based on the law their sentence will be carried” out, it said.

They are all charged with being Mohareb, trying to topple the regime and belonging to the outlawed main opposition group the People’s Mujahedeen Organisation and the monarchist Kingdom Assembly of Iran, the statement said.

Being convicted of Mohareb can carry the death penalty.

Iranian authorities arrested

an estimated 4,000 people

including journalists and reformist politicians in a massive crackdown in the weeks following the

presidential election.

Stiff jail terms have been handed down to several people convicted of taking part in the post-poll unrest, although some have been released on bail pending possible appeals.

According to officials 36 people were killed during the riots of June, but the opposition puts the toll at 72.

Official figures show that more than a thousand protesters were arrested in the most recent wave of opposition demonstrations on December 27 during the Shiite mourning rituals of Ashura.

The unrest a month ago

resulted in eight deaths and

hundreds more people wounded across the country.

The latest hangings bring to

at least 12 the number of people

executed in Iran so far in 2010,

according to an AFP count

based on news reports.

Last year at least 270 people

were hanged.

Tehran says the death penalty

is necessary to maintain public

security and that sentences are carried out only after exhaustive judicial proceedings.