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Published On: Wed, Oct 18th, 2017

Iranian court converts death sentence for blashemy to unspecified number of years in jail

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nsnbc : An Iranian court, on October 17, converted a death sentence for Soheil Arabi to an unspecified number of years behind bars. He was sentenced to hanging in August 2014 after allegedly defaming the prophet and the 12 holy Imams of Shiite Islam in comments on social media. He was also found guilty of such serious charges as insulting state officials and propaganda against the regime, stressed Tehran prosecutor Jafari Dolatabadi.

alexskopje/shutterstock

alexskopje/shutterstock

Dolatabadi announced that the sentences had been converted and claimed that “the initial sentence was execution and its reduction to prison by the Supreme Court shows the independence of the judges.”

Rights advocates or any person who with the faculties to understand fundamental logic may be wondering how an unspecified number of years in jail in the Islamic republic, for blasphemy, criticism of the regime and freely expressed opinions about the regime could possibly constitute proof of an independent Iranian judiciary.

Arabi is in his early 30s. The death sentence in August 2014 has attracted the attention of Iranian rights activists, international rights organizations, as well as media.

Human Rights Watch called on Iran to “vacate the death sentence” for Arabi and has urged authorities to reform the criminal code to improve freedom of speech. nsnbc international editor-in-chief Christof Lehmann said:

“If anyone here is trying to sell propaganda it is the prosecutor who is trying to tell us fairytales about the independent judiciary in Iran”.

Lehmann also described as ridiculous propaganda, Dalabadi’s claim the trade unionist Reza Shahabi Zakari, considered a “prisoner of conscience” by Amnesty International, was guilty of selling “security-related information” to “hostile groups.”  Lehmann added that he is:

“Surprised at how few media, especially independent media, are concerned with the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic”.

Earlier in the month, labor news agency ILNA quoted Shahabi’s wife, Robabeh Rezayi, as saying her husband had been taken back to prison after being released on medical leave.

Former transport worker Shahabi, who was jailed in 2010 on charges supporters say are political, recently went on a 50-day hunger strike in protest at his detention, ILNA reported. Iran does not provide official figures on executions, but Amnesty says it was the world’s second-most prolific executioner after China in 2016. Most of its hangings relate to drug trafficking.

New covertly recorded videos of public hangings in Iran are regularly distributed to media including independent media, suggesting that the number is “considerable”. Lehmann added that:

“The fact that one can be sentenced to death on charges of blasphemy, criticism of the regime and alleged propaganda is extremely disturbing, and should alarm those alleged liberals or libertarians in the West who back Iran no matter what. Arabi’s sentence has been converted because people paid attention and the affair became too embarrassing for the moderate mullahs in Tehran. It should also be stressed that imposing a prison sentence without specifying the number of years amounts to arbitrary, cruel and unusual punishment – all in the name of the allegedly passionate and peaceful religion of Islam, of course.”

F/AK – nsnbc 18.10.2017

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