The Death March

by HADI GHAEMI in New York

15 Oct 2009 07:182

[ analysis ] Iran’s post-election turmoil and the ensuing human rights crisis entered a new phase this week, after authorities announced death sentences for four defendants following the mass trials held for more than a hundred people accused of fomenting unrest and challenging the election results. It has raised the specter of further political executions in Iran. Most ominously, the death sentences were announced on October 10th, the International Day Against the Death Penalty. On the same day, Iran put to death Behnoud Shojaii, a juvenile offender, continuing Iran’s distinction as the only country to execute juvenile offenders since 2008.

The harsh sentences signaled a determination by the Revolutionary Guard commanders and hard-line supporters of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to extend their consolidation of power to the judicial branch. Since the eruption of popular protests challenging the election results, Revolutionary Guards commanders together with Friday prayer leaders and their political allies have been beating the drums for a severe response from the Judiciary, arguing that defendants should be charged with Moharebeh (taking up arms against God) which is punishable by death under Iranian laws, and calling for this ultimate penalty.

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