Page last updated at 14:41 GMT, Thursday, 28 January 2010

Iran 'executes two over post-election unrest'

Opposition protester in Iran (15 June 2009)
Thousands of opposition supporters were detained at post-election protests

Iran has executed two men arrested during the period of widespread unrest that erupted after June's disputed presidential election, reports say.

They had been convicted of being "enemies of God", members of armed groups and trying to topple the Islamic establishment, Isna news agency said.

The executions are believed to be the first related to last year's protests.

Millions demanded a re-run of June's poll at the largest demonstrations in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Opposition groups said it had been rigged to ensure the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a charge the government denied.

At least 30 protesters have been killed in clashes since the elections, although the opposition says more than 70 have died. Thousands have been detained and some 200 activists remain behind bars.

Arash Rahmanipour in court (8 August 2009)
He confessed because of threats against his family
Nasrin Sotoudeh
Lawyer for Arash Rahmanipour

Last month, eight people were killed in clashes at demonstrations on Ashura, one of the holiest days in the Shia Muslim calendar.

"Following the riots and anti-revolutionary measures in recent months, particularly on the day of Ashura, a Tehran Islamic Revolutionary Court branch considered the cases of a number of accused and handed down death sentences against 11 of those," Isna said, quoting a statement from the Tehran prosecutor's office.

"The sentences against two of these people... were carried out today at dawn and the accused were hanged," the semi-official agency said, adding the sentences had been confirmed by an appeal court.

It named them as Mohammad Reza Ali-Zamani and Arash Rahmanipour.

"The sentences for the other nine of the accused in recent months' riots are at the appeal stage... upon confirmation, measures will be undertaken to implement the sentences," Isna added.

'Show trial'

There has been no independent confirmation of the executions or the names, but opposition groups had previously said Mr Ali-Zamani was sentenced to death in October.

He and one other person were believed to have been convicted for ties with the Kingdom Assembly of Iran (Anjoman-e Padeshahi-e Iran), a banned monarchist group.

Mohammad Reza Ali-Zamani in court (8 August 2009)
Mohammad Ali-Zamani is reportedly one of those hanged

At his trial in August, prosecutors accused Mr Ali-Zamani of plotting political assassinations with US military officials in Iraq before returning to Iran "aiming at causing disruption during and after the election". He is said to have admitted his guilt in court.

The Kingdom Assembly of Iran confirmed it had worked with Mr Ali-Zamani, but dismissed the allegations and insisted he had been forced to confess. The group said he had played no role in the post-election protests and had merely passed on news to its radio station.

Human rights activists also noted the indictment stated that Mr Ali-Zamani had been arrested before engaging in any actions relating to the protests.

Nasrin Sotoudeh, a lawyer for Mr Rahmanipour, also denied he had played any role in the unrest and dismissed his "show trial" in July.

"He was arrested in Farvardin [the Iranian month covering March-April] - before the election - and charged with co-operation with the Kingdom Assembly," she told the AFP news agency.

Ms Sotoudeh said her client had been 19 when he was arrested, and that many of the charges related to the time when he was a minor.

"He confessed because of threats against his family," she said, adding that his family had not known the appeal had failed.

19 Dec: Influential dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Hoseyn Ali Montazeri dies aged 87
21 Dec: Tens of thousands attend his funeral in Qom; reports of clashes between opposition supporters and security forces
22 Dec: Further confrontations reported in Qom
23 Dec: More clashes reported in city of Isfahan as memorial is held
24 Dec: Iran reportedly bans further memorial services for Montazeri except in his birthplace and Qom
26 Dec: Clashes reported in central and northern Tehran
27 Dec: At least eight dead following anti-government protests in Tehran; 300 reported arrested

In 2008, the Iranian authorities blamed the Kingdom Assembly of Iran for an explosion at mosque in the south-western city of Shiraz which killed 12 people and wounded more than 200.

Correspondents say the executions may further increase tension in Iran ahead of possible new anti-government protests next month.

Messages have been circulating on the internet about demonstrations on 11 February, the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution.

On Wednesday, Iran's state media reported that two German diplomats had been detained and accused of playing a role in last month's anti-government protests.

A deputy interior minister was quoted as saying they were detained on 27 December, the day after the demonstrations. He also said a close aide to the opposition leader, Mir Hossein Mousavi, was being held for alleged contacts with German intelligence agents.

Germany's foreign ministry said it had no knowledge of the detentions and categorically rejected the accusations.

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