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Second Iranian detainee is executed over alleged protest crime

A locator map for Iran with its capital, Tehran.
AP
A locator map for Iran with its capital, Tehran.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran said Monday it executed its second prisoner detained amid the nationwide protests now challenging the country's theocracy, airing footage on state television it claimed showed him stabbing a man to death and running away.

The execution of Majidreza Rahnavard, less than a month after he allegedly carried out the fatal stabbings of two security officials, shows the speed at which Iran now carries out death sentences for those detained in the demonstrations the government hopes to put down.

Activists warn that at least a dozen people already have been sentenced to death in closed-door hearings. At least 488 people have been killed since the demonstrations began in mid-September, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that's been monitoring the protests. Another 18,200 people have been detained by authorities.

Iran's Mizan news agency, under the country's judiciary, alleged Rahnavard stabbed two security force members to death Nov. 17 in Mashhad and wounded four others.

Footage aired on state TV showed a man chasing another around a street corner, then standing over him and stabbing him after he fell against a parked motorbike. The assailant, which state TV alleged was Rahnavard, then fled.

The Mizan report identified the dead as "student" Basij, paramilitary volunteers under Iran's Revolutionary Guard. The Basij (ba-SEEJ') have deployed in major cities, attacking and detaining protesters, who in many cases have fought back.

The Mizan report offered no motive for Rahnavard's alleged attack. The report accused Rahnavard of trying to flee to a foreign country when he was arrested.

Mashhad, a Shiite holy city, sits some 740 kilometers (460 miles) east of the Iranian capital, Tehran. Activists say Mashhad has seen strikes, shops closed and demonstrations amid the unrest that began over the Sept. 16 death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who had been detained by Iran's morality police.

Mizan said Rahnavard had been convicted in Mashhad's Revolutionary Court. The tribunals have been internationally criticized for not allowing those on trial to pick their own lawyers or even see the evidence against them.

Rahnavard had been convicted on the charge of "moharebeh," a Farsi word meaning "waging war against God." That charge has been levied against others in the decades since 1979 and carries the death penalty.

Iran executed the first prisoner detained during demonstrations Thursday. Amid the unrest, Iran has seen its rial currency drop to new lows against the U.S. dollar.

Iran is one of the world's top executioners. It typically executes prisoners by hanging. Already, Amnesty International said it obtained a document signed by one senior Iranian police commander asking an execution for one prisoner be "completed 'in the shortest possible time' and that his death sentence be carried out in public as 'a heart-warming gesture towards the security forces.'"

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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