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IRAN: Opposition leaders slam 'rubber-stamp' death sentences

February 2, 2011 |  9:19 am

Iranian-police-officers-a-009
Iranian opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karrubi slammed what they described as the rising number of "rubber-stamp" death penalties in Iran during a meeting with Grand Ayatollah Assadollah Bayat Zanjani on Monday, according to the reformist news website Tagheer.

The two former presidential candidates blamed the government for using the threat of death by hanging to intimidate people and spread fear in the society.

“Regardless of the legality of the accusations, every human being is entitled to his rights during any judicial procedure,” they reportedly said in a statement. “Will the execution of nearly 300 people in the past year alone achieve anything other than intimidating the nation and further isolating Iran on the international stage?"

According to a tally by Agence France-Presse, Iranian authorities have already executed 67 people in 2011 at a rate of about two hangings a day. The agency reported 179 executions in 2010. The Netherlands recently froze diplomatic relations with Iran after authorities executed Zahra Bahrami, a dual Dutch-Iranian citizen.

Mousavi and Karrubi also slammed judicial authorities for allegedly executing prisoners without due process or the knowledge of the family and lawyers, and called for due process to be respected in all criminal cases.

The increased political activity by the opposition figures comes amid huge anti-government protests in Egypt that some have likened to the 2009 protests the two men led in Iran.

Mousavi and Karrubi appeared to be emboldened by the recent popular protest movements sweeping the region, praising the "political maturity" of the Arab public and the impartiality of the Egyptian army.

"No power can outrun the people’s will and demands," they were quoted as saying in a statement on Tagheer. Karroubi and Mousavi, both former presidential candidates, helped lead the anti-government demonstrations that followed the disputed 2009 presidential elections.

"Today in Egypt, despite tensions and clashes, the protesters are authorized to march to show which social current wields more clout. We believe that if election protesters are allowed to rally in Iran, people will express themselves."

 -- Meris Lutz in Beirut

Photo: Police and the public witness a hanging in Iran in 2009. Credit: Associated Press

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