Iranian Supreme Court Rejects Death Sentence Appeal By Protester
By RFE/RL's Radio Farda January 24, 2023
Iran's Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by Mohammad Ghobadloo against his death sentence on a charge of "corruption on Earth," raising fears among his legal team that he may be executed in the near future.
Mahdakht Damghanpour, Ghobadloo's lawyer, said in a post on Twitter that the court accepted the appeal of his conviction on the charge of murder, but on a separate charge of "corruption on Earth," the appeal failed.
"We have registered the appeal four times, and each time the court has refused to register and accept it," Damghanpour said.
Ghobadloo was charged for his alleged involvement in an attack on police with a car, which resulted in the death of one officer and the injury of five others.
"Corruption on Earth" is a charge often leveled by Iran's judiciary in cases allegedly involving espionage or attempts to overthrow the government.
But with months of unrest over the death in September of a young woman for allegedly wearing a head scarf improperly rattling the country, courts have taken to using the charge against protesters who have flooded the streets in mass demonstrations.
Amnesty International has blasted Iran for the trial of the 22-year-old Ghobadloo, who was sentenced to death after a trial where his lawyers were not present.
The rights watchdog says the "sham trials" of protesters are "designed to intimidate those participating in the popular uprising that has rocked Iran."
Ghobadlou, who is said to suffer from mental problems, was subjected to torture and other ill-treatment in custody, according to his supporters.
His mother has pleaded for his life in a video message posted online, while three European politicians who have sponsored Ghobadloo in an attempt to protect him from prosecution have urged Iran overturn his death sentence.
Iranians have flooded streets across the country in protest since Mahsa Amini's death, with women and schoolgirls putting up unprecedented shows of defiance in what appears to be the biggest threat to the Islamic government since the 1979 revolution.
In the face of mass protests around the country since Amini's death in mid-September, Iranian authorities have warned of harsher penalties to participants in the unrest.
Four convicted protesters have already been executed and others remain on death row after being handed death sentences.
Earlier in January, following a report of the imminent execution of Ghobadloo and another protester, Mohammad Broghani, hundreds gathered in front of the Rajaei-Shahr prison in Karaj chanting anti-government slogans.
The regime has blamed Western governments for the unrest and has responded to the protests with a bloody crackdown that human rights groups say has left almost 500 dead and hundreds more injured.
Thousands more have been arrested, including many protesters, as well as journalists, lawyers, activists, and others, amid concerns about the charges against them.
Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda
Copyright (c) 2023. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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