Iran halts execution of 3 convicted over November protests
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Iran halts execution of 3 convicted over November protests

Iran’s judiciary had upheld sentences, saying evidence found on their phones showed they torched banks, buses and public buildings; online campaign seeks to overturn punishment

Illustrative: Iranian protesters gather around a burning car during a demonstration against an increase of gasoline prices, in the capital Tehran, November 16, 2019. (AFP)
Illustrative: Iranian protesters gather around a burning car during a demonstration against an increase of gasoline prices, in the capital Tehran, November 16, 2019. (AFP)

TEHRAN — Iran has halted the execution of three people linked to deadly November protests sparked by a hike in petrol prices, one of the accused’s lawyers told AFP on Sunday.

“We conveyed a request (for a retrial) to the supreme court and they have accepted it. We hope the verdict will be overturned,” Babak Paknia said over the phone.

Iran’s judiciary said last week that a court had upheld the death sentence for the three.

It said evidence had been found on their phones of the three setting alight banks, buses and public buildings in November.

The three are Amirhossein Moradi, 26 and working at a cellphone retailer, Said Tamjidi, a 28-year-old student, and Mohammad Rajabi, also 26.

“We are very hopeful that the verdicts will be overturned… considering that one of the judges at the supreme court had opposed the verdicts before,” the four lawyers representing the accused said in a statement published by state news agency IRNA.

Numerous calls had spread online since the verdict was announced using the hashtag “DontExecute” for a halt to executions in the country.

Iran’s Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili gives a press conference in Tehran, Iran, Feb. 4, 2020 (Hamed Ataei/Mizan News Agency via AP)

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said at the time that the verdict could still change over “extraordinary proceedings,” pointing to a legal clause that could trigger a retrial if deemed necessary by the chief justice.

The demonstrations erupted on November 15 after authorities more than doubled fuel prices overnight, exacerbating economic hardship in the sanctions-hit country.

They rocked a handful of cities before spreading to at least 100 urban centres across the Islamic republic.

Petrol pumps were torched, police stations attacked and shops looted, before security forces stepped in amid a near-total internet blackout.

A senior Iranian lawmaker said in June that 230 were killed and thousands injured during the protests.

Iranian protesters rally amid burning tires during a demonstration against an increase in gasoline prices, in the central city of Isfahan on November 16, 2019. (AFP)

Authorities had for months refused to provide casualty figures, rejecting tolls given by foreign media and human rights groups as “lies.”

London-based rights group Amnesty International has put the number of deaths at 304, and a group of independent UN rights experts said in December that 400 including at least 12 children could have been killed, based on unconfirmed reports.

The United States has claimed that more than 1,000 were killed in the violence.

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